Letters to the editor – Sunday – 2-28-16

Published 9:35 am Sunday, February 28, 2016

Funding for downtown events undergoes change

After working with Downtown Salisbury Inc. to plan another year of exciting events downtown, I was dismayed to learn last week that we may not have the funds available to make all these events happen again.

The Rowan County Convention and Visitor Bureau, which last year gave a percentage of money collected from hotel taxes to support and promote Downtown Salisbury and its merchants, has placed restrictions on how this money is allotted. As a result, instead of having the ability to plan and execute the events the merchants feel would be most beneficial to us for the year, we are now required to write grants for each event based on the number of “beds and heads” (overnight guests) it brings to Rowan County.

Since it is almost impossible to anticipate and track this information for the majority of our events, the grants will most likely not be approved and we will have little or no funding from the Visitor Center for these events which provide entertainment for residents and visitors alike plus bringing customers downtown to support the local merchants.

When I questioned this arbitrary reversal of previously allotting funds on a yearly basis to be used as requested by the downtown merchants, I was told that the agreement was “not in writing” so they could do whatever they wanted.

Without this yearly support and the ability to budget in advance, it will make it much more difficult and impossible in some cases to continue with the planned events. And without the support of these events, it will make it more difficult for local merchants to stay in business. If this happens you may see your downtown slowly disappear like so many others. Please make your voices heard and support your town and its merchants!

— Toby Hagmaier

Salisbury Hagmaier is owner of Southern Spirit Gallery in downtown Salisbury.