Salisbury City Council sets tourism authority direction

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009

By Shelley Smith
The Salisbury City Council took another step Tuesday toward forming a tourism development authority for the city.
The council adopted a resolution saying the Salisbury Tourism and Cultural Development Commission must:
– authorize collection of the hotel occupancy tax;
– select and appoint credentialed tourism authority members;
– conduct research on best practices of communities; operating both city and county tourism development authorities;
– review local programs and policies related to tourism and cultural development;
– formulate a strategic plan that establishes a mission, vision and goals;
– provide a report to the City Council that is congruent with the city’s goal-setting and budget development processes.
On Aug. 6, state lawmakers passed legislation allowing the city to set up its own tourism development authority, which could decide its own occupancy tax rate. The rate, which will be 3 percent, would be in addition to the countywide tax, which is also 3 percent
During an August council meeting, Joe Morris, planning and community development director, said the 3 percent tax would bring in an estimated $280,725 each year. Two thirds of the revenue must be used for marketing and promotions, with one third being used for tourism-related expenses, such as capital projects.
At the Sept. 1 council meeting, Mayor Susan Kluttz said the city needs the extra funds “desperately for marketing” and that she would rather that money be paid by visitors than by Salisbury residents.
The city’s tourism authority will be a nine-member board, which would include three representatives from hotels, three representatives from sites and attractions, a Rowan Tourism Development Authority member, a council representative and a member-at-large.