This is in response to two letters that have been in the Mountain Messenger lately. One from Mike Kidd on Aug. 29 and one by Mike McClung on Sept. 5.
Both letters concern the BED TAX collected in Greenbrier County.
Once again, AUDACITY reigns supreme in Greenbrier County, just like the latest money grab with the Lewisburg Fire Service Fee, another entity, the CVB, (Convention and Visitors Bureau) is asking the County Commissioners for more money.
I used the Freedom Of Information Act to see what the actual budget is at the CVB. I didn’t get the breakdown of the individual salaries that I asked for but they did provide the total money used for salaries and benefits. That comes to $341,929.62. There are five full time workers and four part time workers. The total amount given to the CVB to operate this year is close to $1,000,000. All that money is from the BED TAX collected from all the motels and hotels in Greenbrier Co. Some from the individual towns throughout but the lion’s share from The Greenbrier Hotel. So as you can see, the salaries take up over one third of that money.
Just as Mike McClung [Commissioner] said, the CVB asked the Commissioners for another $350,000 to be GIVEN to them, not LOANED to them. This additional money was to be used for a three pronged approach to planning for future tourism growth here in Greenbrier Co. In Mike Kidd’s letter he states that this initiative is beyond the CVB’s “responsibility.” A study on what can be done about the traffic, a sales initiative, and a five year strategic plan for future growth of tourism. All these things “ beyond the purpose of the fully budgeted share of the tax.”
OK, perhaps the traffic study should be left to the Department of Highways and the Town of Lewisburg, since the main flow of traffic goes through Lewisburg usually. The “sales initiative” and the “strategic five year growth plan” seem to be what the CVB is supposed to be created for in the first place, that’s the way I see it. A pointed question I have for the CVB is “why isn’t almost $1,000,000 of TAXPAYERS’ money not enough?” And by the way, the County Commissioners do have the right to say no. If you read the law regarding the BED TAX, you will see it’s really not that complicated. The CVB gets half and the County gets the other half to be managed by the Commissioners in 8 specific categories. Their choice, their discretion. And the word “no” is another choice they have.
Most people I know have to live within a budget. Most people have no choice. I just think that every time I turn around, some entity, be what may, Fire Department, Town sewer and water plant, CVB or whatever, thinks that they don’t have to adhere to the same rules that the rest of us have to. Just stick your hand out and take what you want! I don’t think it is fair and I don’t think it’s right. It’s not playing by the rules and it will eventually lead to a breakdown of what our Community, our County, our State and our Country is based on. The word “NO” needs to be used a whole lot more. Everyone expects their children to know what no means; it’s time some adults learn to accept that no means no and does not mean to further argue the point.
James G. Livesay