Beaufort awards $140,000 in a-tax money

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Beaufort awards $140,000 in a-tax money

By ERIN MOODY
emoody@beaufortgazette.com
Published Tuesday, October 25, 2011   |  495 Words  |  

Much-anticipated accommodation tax money will be doled out to seven of the 10 local organizations that requested grants from the city of Beaufort.

The decision came during Tuesday's council meeting after more than a month of discussions over how that money -- $155,000 this year -- can be better spent to market all of Beaufort using with a cohesive vision and lower costs.

A sticking point for several city council members is the three guide books produced by the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce, Lowcountry Tourism and the Beaufort County Black Chamber of Commerce.

"We don't need three entities doing the same thing for the city of Beaufort," councilman Mike Sutton said.

During a workshop presentation and discussion of the regional chamber's finances, projects and missions, Bob Moquin, head of the Executive Travel & Convention Division, told council the three organizations market to different areas. The information would be difficult to combine in one book, he said.

With one exception, council approved the grants as originally recommended by the Tourism Development Advisory Committee on Sept. 13.

They are:

  • The Arts Council of Beaufort County -- $1,500
  • The Beaufort Film Society -- $8,500
  • Beaufort County Black Chamber of Commerce -- $10,000
  • The Original Gullah Festival -- $5,000
  • Main Street Beaufort, USA -- $37,000
  • Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce -- $72,000
  • USCB Performing Arts Center -- $6,000
  • The Historic Beaufort Foundation, Penn Center and Lowcountry Tourism received no funding.

    The committee had recommended Lowcountry Tourism receive $15,000. That money is instead being placed into a reserve until further discussions about how the tax money should be used. Sutton recommended the change, and only councilman Mike McFee voted against it. He argued that if council is setting aside the money for one organization, the same should apply to all organizations.

    Sutton recommended the same approach for the Black Chamber's grant, but only he and councilman George O'Kelley voted to withhold funding. Sutton warned Black Chamber President Larry Holman that council will be looking for receipts and proof the money is spent on out-of-market advertising and not the guidebook.

    "Be prepared," Sutton said. "Be prepared for changes."

    During the workshop prior to the meeting, Mayor Billy Keyserling told the Regional Chamber it needs to step up its leadership and bring the varied organizations together on a unified marketing plan for all of Beaufort. He also wants the city to hold a leadership summit that would bring all the organizational heads together to work on efficiency, developing a Beaufort brand and specific marketing techniques.

    Related content:

    Beaufort council considers accommodations tax requests, Sept. 13, 2011

    Proposed committee would refocus accommodation tax grants, Oct. 11, 2011