Price of Rowan County hotel rooms could be on the increase

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009

By Jessie Burchette
County commissioners will consider raising the hotel occupancy tax and tackle issues surrounding Fieldcrest Cannon Stadium at their Monday session.
Members of the Rowan County Tourism Development Authority are requesting commissioners seek a change in legislation to allow the Authority to increase the tax from 3 percent to 6 percent.
The Authority board recently voted unanimously to seek the change citing the need for additional revenue to expand marketing and draw more tourists to spur the economy.
All other counties and cities along the I-85 corridor between Greensboro and Charlotte currently have a 6 percent tax. In some instances, it’s a combination of a 3 percent county and 3 percent municipal hotel tax.
If commissioners agree to seek legislation allowing the tax to be increased to 6 percent, commissioners would determine the actual percentage up to 6 percent.
Commissioners will consider contracts to keep the Fieldcrest Cannon Stadium parking lights burning year-round and to replace the bridge on Stadium Drive that was washed out during fall rains.
County Manager Gary Page is recommending approval of a seven-year contract with Duke Energy at $1,718 per month for lights in the parking lot.
“By entering this contract we will satisfy the parking area lighting needs for the 2009 baseball season,” Page wrote in a memo to the board.
The total cost for seven years would be $144,000.
The charge includes rental of the decorative poles and fixtures in addition to electricity.
Last month, commissioners agreed to pay $61,878 to Duke Energy to settle a bill for $261,265 covering 12 years since the stadium opened in 1995. Duke installed the lights, but a contract was never signed and no bill was ever sent.
Page is also recommending a contract with the city of Kannapolis to replace the bridge. Under the proposal, the city will use federal and state disaster funds to pay up to 75 percent of the cost. The county would use money from the Rowan County-Kannapolis Sports Authority, where lease payments have been deposited, to pay the remainder.
Under the agreement the city would award the contract and manage the project.
In other matters, the board will:
– Consider a request from the Salisbury-Rowan Economic Development for $35,000 of additional funds for updating EDC Web sites, including the Rowan County Airport on the Web site and development of materials.
During the budget process, commissioners set aside an additional $50,000 to be used by the EDC if needed.
– Hear a presentation from Lori Swaim, recycling coordinator, to seek a state grant to assist the county in buying a commercial-grade glass crusher. The cost is projected at $78,000, which includes a building to house the device. The state grant would pay around $40,000.
– Approve board appointments to various boards and committees and fire department panels. The county currently has vacancies on the Rowan County Housing Authority and the Zoning Board of Adjustment, but does not have applicants.
– Approve budget amendments including $143,292 in additional state funds for crisis intervention. Overall, the Department of Social Services has received $667,000 for crisis intervention this fiscal year.
The Rowan County Board of Commissioners meets at 4 p.m. Monday in the Cohen Administrative Offices Building, 130 W. Innes St.
You may contact Jessie Burchette at 704-797-4254.