Pocahontas Commissioners Make Hard Decision about Hotel Occupancy Tax Percentages
After hearing annual updates last fall from some of the organizations who receive an annual percentage of the Hotel Occupancy Tax revenues, the Pocahontas County Commissioners faced a tough decision about setting this year’s allotments.
Before making those decisions, however, the commissioners heard from two of those organizations at their January 21st regular meeting.
Charlotte Slagle, representing the Artisans Coop, told the commissioners that the Coop not only promotes the arts, but they are an incubator for more than forty small artisan businesses. She said they run galleries in 4 locations: The Depot in Marlinton; Cass; The Soaring Eagle at snowshoe; and at Pocahontas Memorial Hospital. She asked that their Occupancy Tax allotment remain at last year’s level, 3%.
Representing the county Historic Landmarks Commission. Jason Bauserman and Ruth Taylor asked that their Hotel Occupancy Tax allotment be restored to the level it had been at until a few years ago, which was 7%. Bauserman explained that for reasons that he does not understand, the commission reduced their percentage by 2% at that time, leaving them with only 5%
Ruth Taylor explained that last year Landmarks was forced to spend ten-thousand dollars ($10,000) more then they received, which drained all of their reserves. She said the reason for this was emergency repairs needed at the Opera House and the Log Cabin. The largest expenses involved the replacement of two broken furnaces at the Opera House which cost five-thousand dollars each to replace. She said that it takes all four furnaces at the opera House to heat it sufficiently to hold events there in the winter, and even though two of these have just been replaced, the remaining two have exceeded their expected life and could fail at any time. Bauserman and Taylor not only asked for the restoration of their tax allotment to 7%, but also requested that the commissioners allocate an additional ten-thousand dollars ($10,000) from the commission’s Bricks and Mortars budget.
The commissioners noted that under state law, the Convention and Visitors Bureau must be given 50% of the Hotel Tax Revenues before any of the following allotments are calculated.
After a lot of discussion and expressions of concern about the Historic Landmark Commission’s request, the commissioners voted to retain the tax allotments at last year’s levels, which are:
- Pocahontas Memorial Hospital: A flat seventy-five thousand dollars ($75,000).
- Emergency Medical Services: A flat seventy-five thousand dollars ($75,000).
- Fireman’s Association: A flat fifty-thousand dollars ($50,000).
- Preserving Pocahontas: 3%
- Artisan’s Coop: 3%
- Arts Council: 4%
- Historic Landmarks Commission: To remain at 5%
- Dramas, Fairs and Festivals: 20%
- Parks and Recreation: 33%
- Libraries: 32%
The Commissioners noted that last year they had given a one-time flat five-thousand dollars ($5000) to the Green Bank Park, so they gave that one-time flat five-thousand dollars ($5000) this year to the Historic Landmarks Commission to help with any needed furnace replacements at the Opera House this year.
Holly Chestnut, a Teacher at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School asked the Commissioners for financial assistance to help pay for six middle school students from the school to attend Government Seminars at Charleston from February 2nd through the 5th. She said they would interact with state government officials, attend mock trials and meet legislators. Chestnut said this is her first-year coordination the trip for the school, and only recently realized how expensive the trip is going to be for the kids -with school bus drivers costing about $194.00 and registration and lodging costing the six kids a total of $1,290.00. She has been unable to get any financial help from the Board of Education. The commissioners granted her $500.00 towards the cost of the trip, which is the maximum they can under their rules.
The commissioners also adopted the Emergency Absentee Voting Procedures for the May 12th primary elections.
Finally, the commissioners approved Sheriff Jeff Barlow’s request to hire Bradley Nelson as a Full-Time Law Enforcement Deputy at $35,000 per year, beginning February third. It was noted that Nelson had previously been a Deputy, so minimal training will be needed.