CVB proposal on lodging tax

You recently heard from me when Wilmington positioned itself to withhold a portion of the lodging tax collected for the Clinton County Convention & Visitors Bureau, taxed only on transient guests in our hotels. These are not public monies. Lodging tax is the Bureau’s sole funding source and only charged to overnight visitors. I asked for the community’s support then and heard from many of you. Thank you.

It appears the saga continues. A fact-finding exercise was suggested by the Legislative Committee. My board of directors instead discussed the situation in depth and wishes to strengthen our strategic alliance with Wilmington and put forth a proactive proposal. And that’s what they will do on Wednesday, May 4 at 6 p.m. in the Mayor’s Conference Room (open to the public).

Here’s the thinking behind the objection to Wilmington withholding lodging tax for the benefit of Wilmington City Parks: The Visitors Bureau is accountable to a board which approves the annual budget and goes over it with a fine tooth comb every month; the Visitors Bureau is accountable in reporting how that money turns into visitors who spend a lot of money in our communities; while we all agree that the parks are doing a great job, is there not a need to prove why funds are needed — where is their accountability?; and, should not the funds that will be forfeited by the Visitors Bureau be used to support our mission of driving economic growth through visitor spending?

Here’s our proposal:

“On behalf of the Clinton County Convention & Visitors Bureau’s board of trustees, and in the spirit of strengthening our strategic alliance with the City of Wilmington, the following proposal is put before Council members for consideration.

It is proposed that the City of Wilmington withhold 20 percent of lodging tax receipts (inclusive of the current 10 percent withheld as compared to the 1 percent withheld by the County) they collect for benefit of Wilmington parks. This is to commence with payment of fourth-quarter 2016 lodging tax, payable in February 2017, which will allow the CCCVB to budget for the loss of income beginning with the 2017 budget. While the loss of this income will certainly affect the Bureau’s bottom line and marketing potential, the organization will make adjustments to accommodate this change.

It is requested that Wilmington City Council agree that the funds withheld shall be used by Wilmington City Parks in an effort to bring out-of-town softball/baseball tournaments to the City through infrastructure enhancements to the ball fields and direct marketing to tournament event planners. The purpose of such efforts would be to potentially bring business to the City of Wilmington as well as generally benefit the economic growth of the City.”

Sound fair? Fair would not be an accurate description, especially when the CCCVB has no choice. Our backs are against a wall.

I encourage you to attend the upcoming meeting and raise your voice in favor of the Bureau. We would appreciate your support. Thanks for listening.

Debbie Stamper

Executive Director

Clinton County Convention & Visitors Bureau