Waynesville first to sign modified occupancy tax agreement

By Mary Ann Enloe | Mar 29, 2013

Local officials hope the third time is the charm when it comes to Haywood County Tourism Development Authority’s request for local legislation in the General Assembly to allow Haywood County to collect an additional 2 percent in occupancy taxes.

That would increase the tax from 4 percent to 6 percent and put the amount more in line with most surrounding counties.

Occupancy tax is paid by visitors staying overnight in the county and is collected by lodging establishments. The proceeds are used for tourism promotion.

Each 1 percent in occupancy tax produces about $225,000 in revenue annually, and Maggie Valley business owners collect the biggest chunk of it.

Original draft legislation proposed by the TDA was supported by the county, Waynesville and Canton leaders. The Maggie Valley.   governing board ultimately supported the bill and Clyde tabled the issue pending more information.

In an effort to bring Maggie Valley into the fold, the wording was amended, but the second attempt to get everybody together failed. That lead N.C. Sen. Jim Davis (R - Franklin) to withdraw support until there was agreement.

Waynesville’s third try was hand-delivered to Davis Wednesday at the Legislature’s Town Hall Day in Raleigh.  Mayor Gavin Brown was authorized by Waynesville’s governing board at its regular meeting Tuesday to sign a letter to Sen. Davis which said, in part: “...On behalf of Haywood County and her towns Canton, Clyde, Maggie Valley and Waynesville...we have reached a consensus of what we believe would best serve the county as a whole.  The concept embraces equity with giving due consideration to those who collect the occupancy tax for the County.”

Waynesville and other county towns now request that the proposed TDA Product Development Committee be expanded from 11 to 15 members by making the currently proposed ex-officio members full voting members.  Maggie Valley would appoint 5 members; Waynesville 3; Haywood County 4; and Canton, Clyde and Lake Junaluska one each.

“Due to time constraints and in lieu of a single letter signed by all parties, we will submit individual letters signed by the mayors showing those that have to date joined the accord for a unified Haywood County,” the letter concluded.