I am writing this letter to express my concerns with the proposed changes to the lodging tax ordinance by the Wilmington City Council. When the ordinance was passed about 20 years ago, the purpose was to support the Clinton County Convention Bureau.
The Convention Bureau was established to bring tourism dollars to our area and promote our community. I have seen first hand just how hard Debbie Stamper and her board of directors have worked to achieve this goal. They are very creative and try to think out side the box when it comes to attracting groups and individuals to our community. At the last council meeting, Mrs. Stamper gave each Council member handouts which documented the fact that the City reaps huge returns for each dollar spent by the Bureau to attract tourism. The proposed changes would result in a decrease in funds to the Bureau of approximately $50,000. This change would eliminate about one-sixth of the Bureau’s budget.
I understand that Council is stating that the Bureau could apply for part of this $50,000 just like other agencies. However, anyone who has ever dealt with asking for funds from a governmental body, knows that each time you make the request you expend time and effort that could certainly be used to carry out the actual mission of the organization. Sometimes the process gets bogged down with political issues that have nothing to do with the actual monetary request. There is always the real possibility that the request would be denied. This situation makes it extremely hard to plan ahead.
The citizens of Wilmington do not pay this tax. Unless, of course, they actually rent a hotel room in Clinton County. The tax was created to promote tourism. What better way to promote tourism than through the professional tourism experts at the Clinton County Convention Bureau. I am certainly hoping that the Wilmington City Council refrain from making the proposed changes to the lodging tax ordinance. Wilmington is starting to return to its pre-DHL days. It would be a shame to see it slide backwards.
Judy A. Gano