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December 10, 2013

Council to vote on Chamber tourism funding

GREENVILLE — The Chamber of Commerce is likely to receive the tourism funding it had requested after all.

The Disabled American Veterans (DAV) organization wasn’t so lucky.

Last month, a committee of Greenville City Council members had proposed to slash the funding the Greenville Chamber of Commerce/Convention and Visitor’s Bureau was to receive this year to promote local tourism.

But the council is scheduled Tuesday to approve the original amount recommended for the chamber by the Tourism and Convention Advisory Board. The vote is included as part of Tuesday’s regular session agenda, starting at 6 p.m. in the Municipal Building, 2821 Washington Street. A work session is scheduled for 5 p.m. Tuesday.

During the November 12 meeting, Mayor Steve Reid questioned where the amount the Tourism and Convention Advisory Board recommended be appropriated for the chamber in this year’s city budget would be spent, while a chamber official indicated the money was in line with what the agency had sought in previous years.

The board recommended the Chamber receive $123,500 this year, which is in line with the $125,000 the agency received in last year’s budget.

However, Reid said the council’s tourism committee, which also included Velma Del Bosque-Hobdy and Renee Francey, recommended the chamber’s appropriation be reduced by $48,500.

The Tourism and Convention Advisory Board heard requests October 15 from more than a dozen organizations, each seeking a portion of the hotel/motel taxes the city collects.

The city collected just under $391,000 in taxes during the past year, had budgeted $270,000 in tourism funds in this year’s budget, and the board recommended $250,000 in appropriations be awarded.

The City of Greenville charges a tax of 7 percent on each night’s stay in a local hotel or motel room and then divides the money among the various groups which have applied for the funds. The events they sponsor must enhance and promote tourism and/or the convention and hotel industry in Greenville.

The applications are reviewed by the Tourism and Convention Advisory Board, then the board’s recommendations are presented to the council, which has the final say as to what is eventually included in the annual city budget.

Reid explained the committee asked the chamber for an accounting as to how the money would be spent, as it appeared much of it would be spent on salaries.

Chamber Tourism and Marketing Director Milton Babb replied the agency has always been up front about how the funds are to be used.

During last month’s meeting, City Attorney Daniel Ray suggested tabling the appropriations for the chamber and the DAV — which had sought $27,000 for a flatbed trailer to participate in parades and for a proposed regional conference in Greenville — until Tuesday’s session, in order to allow more time to go over both applications.

In a memo to the Council, Main Street Manager Doyle Dick included paying the recommended $123,500 to the chamber, but included no funding for the DAV.

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