Tourism authority looks to extend trolley repayment to 2019

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 18, 2014

Salisbury Tourism could end up with some spare money to spend on capital projects, if the City Council extends a trolley repayment agreement.
Salisbury-Rowan County Convention and Visitors Bureau’s board of directors on Wednesday forwarded an agreement to the council that would extend a debt service agreement on two trolleys by two years. During Wednesday’s board meeting, Tourism Development Authority director James Meacham said the extended payment schedule would allow his agency to pay for additional capital projects and accelerate current ones.
“We’ll essentially have $12,000 more each year to put into capital projects because the interest rate will remain the same,” Meacham said. “It gives more capital money now to focus on projects like wayfinding and public art, things that we want to move more on at the moment.”
He said the wayfinding project could move more quickly into its second phase with additional money from a trolley payment extension.
The extension still requires City Council approval before additional money remains in the tourism authority’s bank accounts. If approved, the authority’s annual payments would go from about $64,000 per year to an amount that would increase annually, but equal $50,687.87 at its highest point.
Salisbury Tourism Development Authority owns two trolleys that were purchased in 2012. The city of Salisbury provided the money to purchase the trolleys, with the expectation that the Salisbury Tourism Development Authority would pay back the trolleys’ cost over 5 years.
The new agreement would be a total of seven years, with the total debt service amount being reduced to zero in 2019. The tourism authority has only made one payment to the city of Salisbury and currently owes $243,693.53
A presentation during Wednesday’s meeting showed trolley ridership in the 2014-2015 fiscal year, which began July 1, at 94 total riders and $5,866 in total revenue. The presentation also stated that the total number of room nights in local hotels directly associated with the trolleys was 84.
In other news from the tourism meeting:
• Hotel occupancy tax receipts for the Convention and Visitors Bureau were down by 10 percent for June and 4 percent for July, according to an occupancy tax report
Overall numbers from the report showed the bureau received nearly $48,000 more during the 2013-14 fiscal year, when compared to the 2012-2013 fiscal year.
Meacham said the lower numbers for June and July were caused by change of ownership at a local hotel. Because of the change, Meacham said the unnamed hotel hadn’t submitted tax payments yet. Once submitted, he said, receipts for June and July would be noticeably larger when compared to previous years.
• A presentation given during the meeting also stated that sales for Day Out With Thomas at the N.C. Transportation Museum were up 23 percent.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.