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Beaufort has about $165,817 in accommodations tax revenues to award this year -- about $8,000 more than in 2009 -- and on Tuesday got its first look at how the city's Tourism Development Advisory Committee thinks council should slice the pie.
With fewer groups applying for the funding and some asking for substantially less than last year, the city of Beaufort likely will be able to fulfill more of the requests, officials learned during a workshop.
Nine organizations requested a total of $218,100 this year, compared with 11 groups that asked for almost $333,000 in 2009, according to data provided by advisory committee chairman Jeff Evans.
The accommodations tax, commonly called a bed tax, is a tax on overnight lodging collected by the state and local government, then redistributed to counties and municipalities to fund programs that promote tourism.
The committee recommended the city's designated marketing organization, the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce, get the largest slice at $68,375, followed by Main Street Beaufort, USA, a nonprofit that promotes business and redevelopment downtown, at $55,942, Evans told council members.
The state requires that organizations receiving accommodations tax grants show how they used the money to bring people to the area. Officials said last year the city didn't monitor use of the funds closely enough and pushed for more accountability.
"Everybody realized it had gotten a little too loose," Evans said.
Council also asked groups to coordinate marketing efforts when possible.
The committee held "compliance meetings" last month with groups that received funds in 2009, Evans said.
"Everybody is certainly attempting to comply with the requirement as far as giving us information on what the money is used for," Evans said.
The nine organizations requesting money this year included two groups that did not apply for funding last year -- the Beaufort Film Societyand the University of South Carolina Beaufort Performing Arts Center. Groups that applied last year but not this year included Penn Center, the now-defunct Beaufort Performing Arts and the Lady's Island Garden Club.
Council likely will vote on distribution of the funds later this month.
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Tourism committee recommendations:
Beaufort's Tourism Development Advisory Committee recommended the city of Beaufort award $158,317 in accommodation tax grants as follows:
Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce
$68,375 for marketing
Main Street Beaufort, USA
$55,943 for marketing
Lowcountry Tourism Commission
$12,500 for tourism marketing
Beaufort County Black Chamber of Commerce
$10,000 for visitors guide
Beaufort Film Society
$7,500 for seed money
Original Gullah Festival
$5,000 for advertising
Historic Beaufort Foundation
$3,000 for advertising
USCB Performing Arts Center
$2,500 for season promotion
$1,000 for ghost tours