Room occupancy tax payout talks continue, privately

by Kelly Corbett
Wednesday, February 12, 2014


Beach town mayors met Tuesday, Feb. 11, during a closed meeting to continue a discussion from the January beach town breakfast, to talk about flexibility with the second 3 percent of Room Occupancy Tax funds.

All beach leaders are requesting more flexibility, but some want the money for sand, while others want inlet dredging dollars.

Wrightsville Beach Mayor Bill Blair and town manager Tim Owens said a condensed version of the presentation would be an item on the Tuesday, Feb. 18 Wrightsville Beach Board of Aldermen agenda.

“We are going to talk about it a lot on Tuesday, then we are going to have another beach meeting with all of the boards,” Blair said. “It will be a little different this time. It will be specifically talking about this.”

Currently within the second 3 percent of ROT funds, half must be used to promote travel and tourism and half must be used for tourism-related purposes.

“The beaches all have a similar interest, and they all have a little bit of a different way of going about it, so we’re trying to find the right common ground to see whether we do it from the legislature or back from TDA,” Blair said. “… We need to hopefully come up with something that the TDA can support.”

Owens said if the money is taken from marketing and used for beach renourishment, there are ripple effects.

President and CEO of Wilmington and Beaches Convention and Visitors Bureau Kim Hufham’s presentation showed mayors how marketing dollars are being used, including advertising and media services and online management.

To make them aware of possible impacts, Hufham told the mayors which current beach marketing programs could be cut without additional marketing funds from the second 3 percent of ROT tax 

Wrightsville Beach marketing and activities collected the most of all beach towns at 12 percent, or a little more than $1 million, of the $8.8 million 2012-13 ROT collections. Carolina Beach makes up 8 percent, and Kure Beach 4 percent.

Wrightsville Beach’s marketing budget is also the highest of the three beach towns at $443,861, making up nearly half of the $893,140 total second 3 percent for marketing and promotions.

But the percentages flip when looking at the ROT growth rates, with Kure Beach at the top at 8.6 percent for a 6-year average growth rate and Wrightsville Beach at the bottom with 4.5 percent.

Mayor Bill Saffo, New Hanover County finance director Lisa Wurtzbacher, New Hanover County Tourism Development Authority Chairman Carl Marshburn and TDA secretary Chuck Pennington were also present during the meeting.

The next joint beach meeting, which may include county officials, will be held during the next two weeks.

email kelly@luminanews.com 


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