Rowan Tourism Authority looks for funding to keep trolley running

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009

By Jessie Burchette
While an anonymous donor has provided funding to keep the downtown trolley running this spring, its future operation is still undecided.
The Rowan County Tourism Authority has told Executive Director James Meacham to meet with officials of the city of Salisbury and Downtown Salisbury Inc. to discuss trolley operations.
The Tourism Authority inherited the trolley operation nearly a decade ago from Downtown Salisbury, which was losing money on it. The Tourism Authority board at that time agreed to take over the operation.
During its recent meeting, the current Tourism Authority board agreed the trolley is important, but board members also agreed transportation operations are not part of their mission.
Meacham said the board realizes the community wants trolley service to continue, but the Tourism Authority wants to find a better way to operate it and to share the burden of its cost.
The weekend trolley service for the public rarely breaks even since it doesn’t have enough riders.
The other part of the trolley service ó reservations for weddings or special events ó does turn a profit.
Meacham said he will request a spot on the agendas for upcoming meetings of the City Council and Downtown Salisbury.
The current budget allocates $32,500 for trolley operations.
Last month, the board approved a cut in the trolley budget as part of an overall reduction in Tourism Authority spending due to economic conditions.
In other matters, the board:
– Decided to hold off on further cuts in the current budget to see if hotel occupancy tax revenue remains steady or drops further.
– Agreed to continue with the third phase of its program to spur increased visits to the county and overnight stays.
In December, the board agreed to spend $40,000 to target people living in the Charlotte and Winston-Salem-Greensboro areas. Except for $2,200 spent on developing a Web site, the remainder has gone for print, radio, television advertisements and billboards.
Contact Jessie Burchette at 704-797-4254.