This letter is in response to one written by Mike Kidd President of the Greenbrier County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau (CVB) Board of Directors and published in the Aug. 28, 2015 edition of the Daily News and the Aug. 29, 2015 edition of the Mountain Messenger. The headline read “CVB denied funding for tourism plan.”
On July 28, the CVB asked the County Commission to fund the Greenbrier County Tourism Development Initiative (a study, a strategic plan and sales initiative). The cost of $350,000 was not mentioned in the letter written by Mr. Kidd.
First, a little background; Greenbrier County has a 3% bed tax that produces approximately $1.1 million per year. The CVB receives 1/2 which is approximately $550,000 per year. The City of Lewisburg has a 6% bed tax. The CVB receives 1/2 which is approximately $260,000 per year.
The County Commission uses its half of the county’s 3% to assist many entities such as:
• The Greenbrier Valley Theater,
• Carnegie Hall,
• The county’s nine libraries,
• Parks in Ronceverte, Lewisburg, Rainelle, Alderson, Rupert, White Sulphur and Quinwood,
• Events such as the Alderson 4th of July Festival, White Sulphur Springs Dandelion Festival, Ronceverte River Festival, Rainelle Veteran’s Reunion,
• Historic Preservation such as Alderson Bridge, The Blue, North House, The Barracks
• L&R Trail
• Meadow River Rail Trail
• and many more
And through the years, we have also managed to set aside some of the funds to be used for larger projects such as badly needed work on the County’s 1837 Courthouse (which is the oldest working Courthouse in the state of WV) or future recreational facilities.
Back to the issue at hand; according to Mr. Kidd’s letter, “The CVB was denied the funding request by the County Commission with the pretense that we should use our own funds.” I agree!
The proposal was presented to the County Commission as something that was needed, was past due, and was a good investment. Even though we were given only three very large round numbers of cost and very few details, the County Commission did not question the value of the proposal. However, it seems to me that if this was so important that the CVB should have been working to make it happen. But the CVB has made no attempt to fund this idea or find other funding.
The County Commission offered to fully finance the project with 0% interest and a delayed repayment schedule. This offer was rejected. As we were told by the CVB director, they want a partner not a loan.
The CVB and the County Commission are already 50/50 partners. The Commission has offered to go beyond the terms of the partnership to assist the CVB. This loan offer was not mentioned in Mr. Kidd’s letter.
According to the letter, the CVB plans to return to the County Commission and renew its request. I hope the CVB has been trying to find a way to take advantage of a loan offer with such favorable terms. If not, I suggest that the CVB follows the same established protocol as all others and makes the appropriate application at the appropriate time.
Now as for that headline, “CVB denied funding for tourism plan,” perhaps “CVB declines generous financing offer for tourism plan” would have been more accurate.
Greenbrier Co. Commission