Tourism

County Tourism Department Celebrates Increase in Visitors and Lodging Tax – www.elizabethton.com

ROBERT SORRELL

With a portion of Carter County’s tax revenue in its pocket, the Elizabethton/Carter County Chamber of Commerce did not request additional funding in the next county budget.

At its most recent meeting, the Carter County Budget Committee voted to allocate $225,000 for the Chamber of Commerce for the new fiscal year 2022-2023. Funding comes entirely from housing tax.

Tourism receives a portion of its funding from the county’s housing taxes. The Carter County Housing Tax is currently set at 5% and income from it goes to the Carter County Clerk, the Carter County Trustee and the County General Fund. The funding then goes to tourism at the Chamber of Commerce. The housing tax was approved by the state in Carter County in 1984 by private act.

According to the County CFO, between July 31, 2020 and June 30, 2021, housing tax revenue was $252,145.92. The data shows that a total of $247,103.05 was paid out to the Chamber of Commerce. The difference between the two amounts is the processing fee paid to the county trustee.

The amount of money the county receives from housing taxes and pays to the House fluctuates every month. The data shows that the amount ranged from $46,871.62 paid to the Chamber in June 2021 to $10,076.64 in January 2021.

Carter County Tourism Director Luke Freeman previously appeared before the County Budget Committee to provide members with an update on the bureau, which is part of the Chamber of Commerce. He confirmed that tourism is not asking for additional funding this year.

According to chief executive Joy McCray, the tourism department operates on separate financial accounts than the Chamber.

“This funding is the same as it has been for at least ten years,” McCray said. “Tourism is using this funding specifically to advertise outside of our region for outdoor recreation, relocation, travel and general tourism activities. We are also using this funding to reinvest in local projects that promote and are associated with tourism.”

McCray noted that tourism sponsored the Walnut Mountain riding trail and parking lot. Tourism also helped fund a new boat ramp at Lover’s Lane along the Watauga River. Tourism also sponsors local events such as Covered Bridge Days and the 4th of July Fireworks in Elizabethton.

The executive director noted that back in February, she reached out to the commission to thank them for their previous funding for the Elizabethton rink and said they would not be asking for additional funding for the 2022 season.

“We have had a long term relationship under our tourism contract with the county for many years,” McCray said. “It’s the same process that we’ve always followed and it’s great to have such a supportive relationship with the County Commission.”

McCray said that if new opportunities come up, they might ask…

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