Letter to Editor – By Chris Trotter/GWBA President
Each year, the Greater Williamston Business Association (GWBA) plans several events to boost tourism and community involvement. In planning the three Party in the Park events and the July 5 celebration for this year, GWBA members hoped to receive $6,500 from the town’s hospitality fund. In a split vote at the town council meeting on April 7, council did not approve that funding.
Some council members expressed concern about allocating money from the hospitality tax revenue to promote certain events. Some council members feel those events should be self-funded by the organization sponsoring the event.
The four events promoted by the GWBA this year will directly impact tourism in the town of Williamston: from local residents as well as residents in nearby towns. Increased tourism from activities in the town will in turn directly impact local businesses in the form of increased sales and therefore benefit the town by increased funds toward the hospitality tax. In addition to the financial impact these events provide; local residents of the town of Williamston would enjoy at no charge: a concert, children’s entertainment, and a DJ.
Last year, Party in the Park attracted over 2,000 people. This year, the GWBA plans to promote three Party in the Park events therefore attracting around 6,000 people. Events like Party in the Park give local restaurants and vendors the opportunity to sell food and products. Also many businesses set up tables and banners sharing information and services with community members.
The GWBA does not earn profit from events like Party in the Park. All of the money raised through sponsorships, drink sales, etc. pays for the event and other GWBA community sponsored events throughout the year. These events directly support the GWBA mission to help grow businesses in the town of Williamston and help the community enjoy a better quality of life.
The South Carolina state statute regarding the use of hospitality tax funds explains tax revenue may be used for advertisements and promotions related to tourism development.
SECTION 6-1-730. Use of revenue from local hospitality tax.
(A) The revenue generated by the hospitality tax must be used exclusively for the following purposes:
(1) tourism-related buildings including, but not limited to, civic centers, coliseums, and aquariums;
(2) tourism-related cultural, recreational, or historic facilities;
(3) beach access and renourishment;
(4) highways, roads, streets, and bridges providing access to tourist destinations;
(5) advertisements and promotions related to tourism development; or
(6) water and sewer infrastructure to serve tourism-related demand.
The GWBA officers believe the promotion of the three Party in the Park events and the July 5 celebration fits under the fifth statute of section 6-1-730. The town of Williamston has so many assets including Mineral Spring Park, wonderful businesses, and most of all great people. It would be a terrible shame if events promoting town camaraderie are cancelled due to lack of support from town leaders. Community members are asked to contact town council members to encourage them to approve funding for GWBA events.
Town Council Members:
Tony Hagood, Ward 1, firstname.lastname@example.org, 864-933-1821
Rockey Burgess, Ward 2, email@example.com, 864-933-7508
David Harvell, Ward 3, firstname.lastname@example.org, 864-933-7667
Otis Scott, Ward 4, email@example.com, 864-556-4272
Mack Durham, Mayor, firstname.lastname@example.org, 864-617-5097