TDA approved $1 million budget for 2015

By Jessi Stone Assistant editor | May 01, 2014

The Haywood County Tourist Development Authority approved its 2014-15 operating and events budgets of more than $1 million during a Wednesday meeting.

Chairman Ken Stahl said the good news was that this year’s revenue had exceeded expenses. According to the financial report, revenues through January were $628,933 and expenses through January were $605,208.

Revenue from occupancy tax has also increased over last year. Net revenue from Haywood in 2013-14 was $681,255 and the projected revenue for 2014-15 is $735,638, which is a 3 percent increase over 2011-12.

Canton brought in 7 percent of the total occupancy, Lake Junaluska brought in 1 percent, Waynesville made up 24 percent, Clyde made up 0 percent and Maggie Valley still brings in the majority — 68 percent.

 

Canton

Canton’s 1-percent funding has increased from $15,853 to $19,617. While Focus on Canton requested $12,200 for the annual Mountain Mater Fest, the event this year was cancelled and no funding will be awarded. The Haywood County Fair requested $5,000 but the TDA didn’t approve any money for the fair from the Canton 1 percent funds.

Lake Logan Multisports Festival will receive $2,500; the Bethel Rural Community Organization 5K requested $4,900 but will receive $750; Canton’s 108th annual Labor Day Celebration requested $10,000 and will only receive $5,000; Friends of Camp Hope Quilt Square received $750; Shining Rock River Fest received $2,000 and Canton Farmers Market received $1,500.

Cold Mountain Corn Maize requested $3,000 but none was awarded.

 

Clyde

Clyde’s 1-percent revue increased from $613 to $2,452. Fines Creek Bluegrass Jam requested and received $1,000; $250 will go toward Blue Ridge Breakaway and $250 will go to Haywood County Fair.

 

Lake Junaluska

Lake Junaluska’s occupancy tax has increased from $11,324 to $12,261. While $15,500 was requested for the lake’s annual Independence Day fireworks and celebration, only $5,000 was granted.

Appalachian Christmas requested $7,500 and received $2,500; $500 will go toward Folkmoot; $250 will go to the county fair and $500 will go to the Haywood County Chamber of Commerce Half Marathon though $7,925 was requested. Blue Ridge Breakaway received $1,500.

 

Maggie Valley

Maggie Valley’s 1-percent revenue increased from $126,824 to $134,867. Maggie Valley Festival Grounds will receive $20,000 for grading and improvements, $10,000 will go toward purchasing “Winter Woods” lighting, $750 will go to the Southeastern Gas and Petroleum Expo in the spring; $750 will go to the Maggie Valley Swap Meet and Car Show, $2,000 will go to Maggie Valley Fall Days; $54,476 will go to Maggie Valley groups for co-op advertising and $8,796 will go to Haywood County Hotel & Motel Advertising initiative.

Other events receiving funding are the WNC BBQ Festival, Maggie Valley Oktoberfest, Maggie Valley Moonlight Run and Blue Ridge Breakaway. The Miss Maggie position, which was funded from the 3-percent funds last year, will be funded from Maggie Valley’s 1 percent this year, will receive $2,800 and $8,000 will go toward the Maggie Valley Chamber of Commerce executive director position.

 

Waynesville

Waynesville’s 1-percent funding has increased from $72,471 to $76,016. Waynesville Gallery Association’s Art after Dark received $4,500; HART received $3,000 for out of region advertising; The Strand at 38 Main received $1,000 for its Thursday Night Music Series; Apple Harvest Festival and Blue Ridge Breakaway received $4,000 and Melange of the Mountains will receive $3,980.

Other events being funded are the Mountain Street Dance, Appalachian Lifestyle Celebration, Church Street Arts & Crafts Festival, The Classic Wineseller’s Live Music Series and Whole Bloomin’ Thing Festival.

Folkmoot USA requested almost $11,000 but didn’t receive any funding due to lack of funding. ArtFest, which was formerly International Festival Day for 30 years, requested $8,000 but only received $4,000.

 

3 percent funds

Out of the 3-percent occupancy tax fund, $4,700 will go to developing plans to maximize bicycle tourism in Haywood; $3,225 will go to a shuttle and tents for the Oasis Shriners Spring Ceremonial being held at Maggie Valley Festival Grounds; $4,000 for the Haywood County Agri-tourism Guide, $6,000 for Folkmoot Festival and $1,800 for a new event — Buy Haywood’s Uniquely Local Food Crawl being put on by the Haywood Advancement Foundation.

Operating budget

Much of the TDA's budget also is spent on personnel salaries, insurance, accounting, office supplies for the visitor centers, promotional materials, travel, the visitor guide, rent, marketing, video marketing and other tourism-related expenses.

The TDA budgeted $143,519 for salaries, $44,671 for four part-time staff members for the visitor centers, $300,000 for advertising, $17,500 for accounting services and $10,000 for promotional merchandise.

A few line items have been beefed up for some new marketing initiatives. Out-of-county travel was increased from $4,000 last year to $7,000 this year. Educational costs increased from $3,400 to $6,500, marketing costs increased from $10,546 to $20,000 and communications and public relations costs increased from $0 to $13,000.

The TDA also budgeted $20,000 this year to pay for trimming vistas and overlooks on Blue Ridge Parkway.

Comments (11)
Posted by: Scott Lilly | May 01, 2014 17:23

Well, it's a start.  We'll have to see if the line item budget is published.  I would like to see things like:

1) Did the TDA do anything that specifically contributed to the increase in revenue?  If so, compare that to neighboring counties to show how we performed in comparable markets.

2) What programs from last year resulted in positive ROI verses negative ROI and how was that factored into the strategy to fund programs this year?

3) Why are we taxing local businesses and patrons for out-of-country travel?  If there was out-of-country travel last year, show the net value this provided to the community.

4) What would happen if we cut the occupancy tax in half to 2% and doubled the amount sent to the zipcodes?  (All 2%)



Posted by: Vicki Hyatt | May 01, 2014 20:49

Just out of curiosity, how can we call this a business tax any more than we can call sales tax a business tax? Businesses collect the tax, but don't pay it.

 



Posted by: Scott Lilly | May 01, 2014 21:33

Well, it's hard to categorize and I've heard it explained differently at different times.  If it's the customers that are taxed, then it's "taxation without representation".  Likely if challenged that way, some lawyer would claim it's the business that is taxed.  If it's the customer that is taxed, then could a customer get in trouble for non-payment of the tax?  The non-payment penalty as the law is written is for the business owner -- not the customer. If someone is very low-tech about a home they might rent now and then and just says, "Gimme a $50 bill every night you stay here" -- eventually some government audit will learn of this and collect from the owner -- not go seek their past customers to collect.  (I think there is some mention of about 50 occupancy tax "new accounts" in some recent audit where this might have happened.)  Ultimately, it's the TRANSACTION that is taxed but the business is ultimately responsible for it.  So I try to refer to it as taxation of "businesses and patrons" when I remember to do so.

 

Sales tax is the same.  However, it's universal with the exception of some things like food and services I think.  Harder to pick a fight with something that is for everyone equally.  Taxes are a sensitive subject with conservatives.  Yeah, we can take it -- but if not well-justified and well-spent, we get ourselves all worked up.  (In case you never noticed. :-)

 

I like this article.  It puts more facts out there than I've seen anywhere else.  I hope it contributes to a productive conversation that is long overdue.  I still want to see the justification from the "we need more tax" side -- but this article isn't the place for that I know.



Posted by: Scott Lilly | May 01, 2014 21:45

Oh, and regarding sales tax.. If I order a $10,000 diamond from a Virginia company and have it shipped to my NC home, I won't pay a dime of Virginia's sales tax.  I should, however, pay a NC sales tax of maybe $700.

 

Try that next time you stay at an out of town hotel.  Go stay in Knoxville, TN and tell the proprietor to send the occupancy tax back to Haywood County where you vote.  They'll look at you like you have two heads!

 



Posted by: Grass Roots WNC | May 02, 2014 00:19

Vicki, May 19th the community will be gathering at lunch (11:30) to discuss the Occupancy Tax - in a way never covered in the news.... want to come?

When you 'collect' your payment for the work you do (a Paycheck) - you must then pay taxes at the end of the year... do you say "I pay taxes" or do you say "my Boss pays my taxes for me... since he gives me the check"? Most people say "I pay".

It is the same thing for a motel owner.. ALL payments for motels rooms come from a "tourist"/the Boss... so when a motel owner gets his 'check' from the boss/tourist and then at the end of the year (or quarter) pays his occupancy tax,.. does the motel owner say "I paid my taxes"?  Yes.

As mentioned above - the owner is the one going to jail if they do not pay the tax - so I guess the motel owner pays the tax... or else.

If the owner could Arbitrarily "Raise the Rates" on the motel room - I am sure they would! The owner needs the money more than the TDA Board needs it! So if the owner is forced to "Raise the Rates" to pay an Occupancy Tax - Instead of paying the electric bill or putting on a new roof... then I am sure it is the motel owner paying the tax... since he can not use the money the way he thinks is best for him and his family.

Remember - ALL money comes from the tourist... it is not a different money source.



Posted by: Vicki Hyatt | May 02, 2014 09:47

I get it that people don't like taxes, but all this effort to brand the occupancy tax as a "business tax" is specious. After all, the tax exists only because it was the hospitality businesses in the county that asked the legislature to impose it. Own it.



Posted by: Scott Lilly | May 02, 2014 10:59

Huh.  I didn't realize there was an effort to brand it anything other than a tax.  I get a little worked up when someone attempts to argue that it's a tax that "visitors - not locals - will pay" as if that makes it ok.  Yes, the visitors pay for a transaction but the TDA's cut of the "revenue" is taken out of the transaction which reduces what the business keeps as part of that transaction.  That's revenue from a transaction with a local business that is turned over in part to government.  The concept of increasing that part turned over to the government is what's debated no matter what it's called.

 

If a hospitality business asked for a tax to be collected from their transactions with their customers, I would accuse those asking for it of being duped.  The effect on taxing a transaction should make it less desirable to make that transaction.  If the TDA tax would be raised to 100%, for example, visitors would likely not stay in Haywood County hotels because the cost to them has doubled.  The only way a hospitality business should support the tax (or the increase) is if they stand to benefit from that tax.  Using the last 4 years data, can we show that they have benefited from the tax at least what they each paid into it?



Posted by: Vicki Hyatt | May 02, 2014 11:41

I'm looking at a hotel bill from a recent conference I attended in Nashville. The $179 a night room stay included $16.56 in state tax (9.25 percent,) $10.74 (6 percent) in occupancy tax and $2.50 in city tax.

A room at the Waynesville Inn this time of year is $135 for the room; $9.45 (7 percent) for state tax and $5.40 (4 percent) for the occupancy tax. Would someone looking for a Haywood County vacation really go elsewhere if they paid an extra $2.70 in occupancy tax on their room?

 



Posted by: Scott Lilly | May 02, 2014 11:46

"After all, the tax exists only because it was the hospitality businesses in the county that asked the legislature to impose it." -- Did the hospitality businesses support the tax with some expectation that they would control how it was used? 

 

I am reminded of the statement of how the money is to be controlled: "Mayor Ron DeSimone pointed out during the meeting that the town’s representative on the TDA should represent the interest of the board and not people in the community."

 

http://themountaineer.villagesoup.com/p/first-foul-on-new-maggie-board/1138064#1138537

 



Posted by: Scott Lilly | May 02, 2014 11:49

"Would someone looking for a Haywood County vacation really go elsewhere if they paid an extra $2.70 in occupancy tax on their room?" -- Good question.  Why do local hotels not raise their rates $2.70?  I'd want to hear from hotel owners on that one.



Posted by: Charles Zimmerman | May 05, 2014 07:59

             Highway robbery is highway robbery.

             "Occupancy tax" is not just specious in that it may drive temporary dwellers elsewhere, it is a violation of OUR Founding Principles of equality and representation, as such it puts the taxpayer of Haywood county at risk if someone challenges it. Challenges could be from any traveler or any business that correctly points out that it is unfair/unjust to have a tax on their customers that then benefits the county at large. Besides the fact that We have a commission with wide authority to discriminate by withholding funds to "festivals" they may not support, not elected by US. Nor in general beholden to US.

 

           C.Z.



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