Reader letters, March 4
Extra tax will fund a tourism plan
To the editor:
There appears to be controversy concerning the proposed 2 percent occupancy tax increase. This is a good thing as it generates a reflection on concerns of the stakeholders.
Several issues have been discussed and a lot of people have been confused as to what this is all about.
We here in Haywood County must rely on tourism for our livelihood. Almost all of out industrial jobs are gone.
The big players in tourism here in Western North Carolina are our neighbor to the east, Buncombe County, and our neighbor to the west, Cherokee. Buncombe County enjoys having tourist spend about $729 million per year in their county. Swain County has tourist spending about $256 million. We struggle to find tourists to spend $116 million with us.
Our research shows that tourists come here for the scenic beauty. The problem is How do we keep visitors coming here for the first time and how do we keep repeat business. This takes a multi-faceted approach.
Buncombe County has been successful with implementing a tourism economic development program. Their core principle was that any project they undertook had to be able to show an increase in room night stays. This innovative approach has also been implemented in other counties. We must not rely on the status quo and hope things will get better.
The proposed 2 percent occupancy tax increase will enable us to implement our own tourism economic development plan. We would hope to be as successful as Buncombe.
One of the main concerns voiced in several meetings was the representation of Maggie Valley in spending the 2 percent tax money. The people that spoke about this indicated they thought that the Tourism Development Authority (TDA ) and the new proposed Product Development Committee would spend the money on projects that would not benefit Maggie. This thought seems to come from the belief that Maggie would not have a voice in this process.
Having been involved in the previous 1 percent tax increase I can say that Maggie will be well represented in both the new proposed 2 percent tax increase as well as the existing 4 percent occupancy tax.
The TDA has the final approval authority on any and all spending projects. Currently the TDA has 12 voting members on its board. Seven of these including the chairperson are from Maggie Valley. This is a 58 percent majority. Additionally the new product development committee, which has no spending approval at all, will have 10 members.
Per the existing proposed legislation, Maggie has the opportunity to have five members on this committee that will analyze proposed projects. Maggie will be well represented on both committees.
We on the TDA have learned a lot with the implementation of the previous 1 percent tax. All guidelines, rules and procedures that were developed will guide us in fairly implementing the new proposed 2 percent tax.
Frankly we have been good stewards with the existing 4 percent tax money we now collect. However in order to do more, we need to look to economic development projects to increase our market share of tourism.
Maggie Valley should be applauded for their efforts in creating a strategic plan that will look at their strengths, weakness, threats and opportunities.
This plan will probably be a work in progress perhaps with baby steps to start with.
Its like the mayor of Maggie said we all should be pulling on the same end of the rope.
Ken Stahl is the chairman of the Haywood County Tourism Development Authority Finance Committee.
Constitution allows abortion
To the editor;
As our vice principal quite well and rationally pointed out, every person must be aware of scams. Generally speaking, scammers use a person’s reaction to a portion of truth to perpetrate something that is wholly false. Such is the case with the issue of the so-called “right to life.”
While the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence was not incorporated into any declaration of rights nor law, it is important to note that the phrase “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”, must be taken in its entirety to fully convey the true meaning.
Influenced by John Locke’s writings, they fully embraced and expressed a belief in the Deistic notion of inalienable rights inherited at birth from a common “creator” and as such “all men are created equal.” Secondly they listed what they considered to be the most important of those inalienable rights: “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” of which “life” cannot be separated without adverse effect on “liberty and happiness.” But yet the so-called “right to life” folks would have us believe otherwise. They would have us believe that a fetus “inherits” rights at the moment of conception and worse, directly not from its parents but from a foreign omnipotent source. By this abhorrent nonsense they would subjugate a woman from the moment of conception, substituting their judgment of conscience for hers.
As the Supreme court pointed out in Roe, not only is abortion covered by common law (7th Amendment), the 14th Amendment quite clearly expresses the original intent of “Citizen by birth”(George Washington):
Sec. 1 All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.
How much clearer or otherwise “self-evident” can this be?
Potters aid Open Door
To the editor:
Recently there was an article about Ann Melton writing some books about Haywood County; when it started, how it developed, where all the development took place.
It seems that the downtown area originally developed around the Frog Level area by the railroad tracks. Today that area seems to be picking up steam once again due to various restaurants, shopping areas and The Open Door. We, personally, think that the railroad should once again offer to make a stop at Frog Level to increase the area tourism, but that is only our opinions.
In the springtime, Haywood County starts off the beautiful season with The Whole Bloomin’ Thing in May, but prior to that, The Open Door opens its doors and graces our community with a fund raiser called The Empty Bowl, which was held March 2. We acknowledge and praise all the local potters who offer to make bowls, free of charge, and give them to The Open Door for this project.
Thank you potters and thank you to those of you who have supported this project in the past. Might we suggest that this year you help to support this project and all the activities in the Frog Level area so that it may once again become a thriving location.
Karen and Jim Doyle