Reader letters

Apr 17, 2014

Vote on room tax

To the editor:

Some of our representatives here in Maggie Valley have been accused of corruption and incompetence.

Mayor DiSimone and his cronies do not seem to care what the majority of the people want.  He seems incapable of understanding the detriments of increasing the Occupancy Tax. Along with my wife, I have been running a small vacation rental business for 24 years.

As a retired computer professional, I have been able to track certain aspects of tourism in this area.  What I believe we would need are more and bigger attractions such as Ghost Town, the departed Zoo, the departed Railroad Rides and the like; more attractions that would appeal to families with children.

Would additional occupancy tax money bring any of these?  I think not.  More taxes would only make Maggie Valley a more deserted Ghost Town.

You have already seen the intense opposition to this tax by the Lodging Association, Philip Wight and most residents of Haywood County.  The Lodging Association is an experienced organization with extensive knowledge of who comes to Maggie Valley and why.  The Mayor says the Lodging Association should have no special consideration regarding the matter?

This from a man who has obliterated the truth in the past by exclaiming, in paraphrase, .....”this accommodation has more rooms than that accommodation so this one should have more influence.”  Huh?  Duh?

This anal attempt to sway people by distortion only serves to show that he knows the overwhelming majority of the lodging owners are against this tax.  And so are the majority of the citizens of Haywood County.  He just doesn’t care.

Here is our suggestion for a solution.  Put the issue on the November ballot. How else can it be honestly and justifiably settled? Seems like a no brainer!

Thomas and Susanne Koziol

Maggie Valley

 

Appreciated The Mountaineer’s help

To the editor:

Thanks to Rachel Robles at The Mountaineer for the article on the Area 1 Envirothon, sponsored by the Area 1 Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts.

Envirothon is one of the largest educational events offered by conservation districts. We at Haywood Soil and Water owe huge thanks to the many who make it happen — the students for their hard work and the teachers who serve as advisors — Angie May, Amy Tiller, Sue Miller, Mark Ethridge, Sharon Flowe and 4-H advisor Amy Warren.

The resource folks listed in the article are terrific; Kaleb Rathbone at the Test Farm and his staff always welcoming (plus, they did a teacher workshop while the kids were testing); the Pigeon River Fund aids in providing money for registration fees, travel expenses and motel rooms in Burlington; our Regional Coordinator Davis Ferguson (Division of Soil and Water Conservation) helps facilitate the whole event.

It’s so good to know our youth, our future, are learning in depth about the environmental issues that affect us all.

Gail Heathman

Haywood Soil and Water Conservation District

Comments (8)
Posted by: Scott Lilly | Apr 17, 2014 12:28

Mr. and Mrs. Koziol, the TDA room tax issue never gets a full explanation -- only short sound bites and incomplete data.  As well, I'm starting to learn that most of the "facts" coming from the pro-tax side are distorted and even some times incorrect.  As a society, do we want more of a "limited government" solution or a "majority rules" solution?  There are more out-of-Maggie residents than Maggie residents.  We can simply vote your generous contributions to the TDA away from you for use as we would like.  :-)

 

No taxation without representation.  Taxing visitors that can't vote for/against the tax?  Or is it taxing the hotel owners that do have a vote for the tax?  Do we want our government able to pick a single industry and tax it to the delight of everyone else?  Who's next using that strategy?  Let's pick art shops next!  All local art shops should charge an additional 6% on all sales and we'll use that money to pave nice roads into town.  If you don't comply, we'll take you to court and impose heavy fines.  Won't those art shops will all of a sudden realize so much more business because they have better roads?  And since there are lots more non-art-shop people than art-shop people, we can certainly gang up on them and out-vote them!  Heck, if the local governments won't go along with it, we'll pay them a kickback and send them half our take to each zipcode so they'll support it!  And then we'll have the people taking the money report to the local papers that the extra tax on art shops have increased art shop visitors by 2,000%!  And they'll believe it!

 

No, I'm not on record of accusing anyone of being corrupt.  Sly perhaps.  I agree with you on the "incompetent" remark since they haven't made any competent case to justify their tax increase proposal.  Put it on the ballot.  Not only will that settle the tax question -- those that are incompetent should get a hard look by the voters.



Posted by: Scott Lilly | Apr 17, 2014 13:23

"What I believe we would need are more and bigger attractions such as Ghost Town, the departed Zoo, the departed Railroad Rides and the like; more attractions that would appeal to families with children." -- I recall the owner of Ghost Town asking the Maggie board for infrastructure support for revitalizing the theme park.  No TDA dollars available for that.  Perhaps if the Maggie hotel association would have collected dues in the amount of 2% of revenue instead of having the TDA tax them the same amount, they could have offered to assist Ghost Town with some improvements that would have potentially been a DIRECT reasons to increase tourists to Maggie.  That would be DOUBLE what is sent back to the Maggie zipcode today without government funding restrictions.  And if the TDA were to disband all together, hotels would be able to reduce rates between 2% and 4% depending on if they elect to contribute to the local association that asks for 2% of revenue as dues.  (I'm just making all this up -- but it's an alternate reality that I'm sure some wish for.)



Posted by: Grass Roots WNC | Apr 19, 2014 09:55

Let's talk... have a level headed debate:

May 19th - Lunch with John Locke Foundation (a NC Think Tank) TOPIC: Tourism Tax

All Invited: TDA Board members - Lodging Owners - All elected Officials. Location to be announced soon. Many of the interested parties are agreeing to come together. Discover a ground work of facts and experiences... from across North Carolina... in a business like format. Would you like to join us?

This will be a single issue meeting - on the Tourism (Bed) Tax



Posted by: Scott Lilly | Apr 19, 2014 10:19

Hey!  Now THAT'S a good idea.  As passionate as the opinions are, may I suggest someone reach out to Ms. C.J. Deering to bring a little comic relief to the debate?  As serious a topic this is, mixing in a little laughter would go a long way to remind us that we're still all neighbors.

 

http://themountaineer.villagesoup.com/p/rolling-with-stone/1159458



Posted by: Allen Alsbrooks | Apr 19, 2014 13:55

As a lodging owner and active proponent of a thriving and busy Maggie Valley I stand against the proposed 50% Occupancy Tax increase as it has been postured by our government. Both S318 (Davis) and H307 (Queen/Floyd) are flawed. They call the proposed tax "Capital Expenditures Occupancy Tax." What they really mean is we want to build government operated parks. That's because private enterprises would be prohibited from tapping the funds. And that's straight from the talking heads who accuse us of being "uneducated." They say "we don't know how it will be used yet....just pass it now and we will decide later." This is a trampling of our constitutional rights.

I do not agree that the county commissioners should get their hands on any more of our tourist tax dollars until the current TDA receives a complete audit.

The current spending of the TDA sometimes favors political projects rather than "heads in beds" projects which is the underlying reason the tax is allowed in the first place.

There have been "site master plans" which have received funding which are not even tourist drawing which violates Session Law 2007-337, House Bill 1013, Section 2, Part V, Sec. 14.1. This, to me, is akin to putting the cart before the horse.

The "towns" refuse to follow Session Law 2007-337, House Bill 1003, Section 2, Part V, Sec. 15 (4) concerning their "at large" appointments. They simply pick one puppet to send up rather than two as stipulated in the law. And the commissioners allow it.

In March I met with Lynn Collins, TDA Director (paid staff) and Maggie Valley Mayor Ron DeSimone (elected official) and asked them to help me understand how this proposed tax increase is a good thing for our community. I asked them to call for a "workshop" where we could all sit down and work out our issues. I have not heard a word out of anyone.

I agree, if we are going to remain in the tourist business we have to do something to draw families back. We need to be finding a niche that Gatlinburg/pigeon Forge, Cherokee, and Asheville dont have. We also need to keep our business open after 5PM. We need to keep our great restaurants open until Midnight. It's embarrassing as heck to tell people the only restaurants open late are the franchises in Waynesville or Canton.

We need to be thinking big...a lot bigger than $450,000 per year. Especially when our direct competing destinations are thinking in the 20-100Million range. 2% just can't touch that. Heck, even Macon County is building a ball park. They are using money from their bank account and borrowings to make that happen.

One way to immediately win me over is to allow municipalities to control their own collections. Let the funds be used for improving streetscapes as well as local projects. Tie it in with a "Main Street USA" concept. Another way to sway me is to give each "ZIP Code" more autonomy over how they spend their collections.

 



Posted by: Scott Lilly | Apr 19, 2014 14:15

Reduce the tax to 2% and send 100% of it back to the originating zipcode.  No TDA overhead required.  Everybody wins!



Posted by: Scott Lilly | Apr 19, 2014 14:23

"I have not heard a word out of anyone." -- You won't.  There is no "educated" position to advocate the tax increase.  Only the uneducated and uninformed would support such an idea.  But then, let's see what shows up at this debate on the topic that's mentioned.  This is the time to make a case for the tax with something more than an "everybody wants it" argument without any supporting evidence or reasoning.  This is it, it's "put up or shut up" time.

 



Posted by: Charles Zimmerman | Apr 20, 2014 10:13

      "...that to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves, is sinful and tyrannical; that even the forcing him to support this or that teacher of his own religious persuasion, is depriving him of the comfortable liberty of giving his contributions to the particular pastor whose morals he would make his pattern, and whose powers he feels most persuasive to righteousness, and is withdrawing from the ministry those temporal rewards, which proceeding from an approbation of their personal conduct, are an additional incitement to earnest and unremitting labors for the instruction of mankind; that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, more than our opinions in physics or geometry;..."(Jefferson's Act)

                 Substitute business for pastor and this Founding Principle applies.

                  No business should have to pay taxes to support another business  whether they are in direct competition or not. All businesses are free to provide their own promotion by advertisement.

                  OUR govt. has no business in the promotion of private enterprise. This on its face is wrong! Regardless of what North Carolina Constitution allows. Nor should OUR govt. way-lay passers-by seeking temporary comfort and/or entertainment in the various establishments that cater to such things while then using such high-way robbery to build "capitol projects" that benefit local communities.

            The "johnny did it" argument of spending money just because others do is bogus. Haywood county is except for a few days out of the year, not a major attraction site. It is instead an area that "travelers" pass thru to get to major tourist attractions.

              Haywood county should not try to compete with far greater funded areas. We do not have the resources. Nor should We acquire such resources thru discrimination.

 

             Kick it Mr. Alsbrooks;

              C.z.



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