Board OKs tourism study

Published 8:36 pm Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Beaufort County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday authorized a study to determine if Beaufort County would benefit from a county tourism authority.
One member of the board told proposal supporters he would vote against any recommendation to create an occupancy tax that would support the authority’s work.
The board voted 5-2 to endorse a proposal from a group comprised of Aurora and Belhaven residents and business owners who appeared before the commissioners and asked for the study.
“All the municipalities have passed resolutions supporting this study,” said Commissioner Al Klemm. “It’s time for somebody to go ahead with a study. If they want to do it, let them do it.”
Commissioners Stan Deatherage and Hood Richardson disagreed and voted against the proposal.
“I am not willing to vote for anything that would create a new tax,” said Richardson. “I am not in favor of empowering this committee.”
Deatherage agreed.
“I don’t believe government should be in (tourism) and I don’t want to bless something that would turn out to be a boondoggle,” he said.
According to information presented to the board, a nine-member committee comprised of representatives from Aurora, Bath, Belhaven, Chocowinity, Pantego and Washington Park, as well as three members appointed by the commissioners, will study the possible benefits of a Beaufort County Tourism Authority.
The committee will prepare a description of a county tourism authority operations, develop a list of objectives that could be achieved by the creation of a tourism authority and determine the sources of and expected revenue from an occupancy tax to fund authority activities, among other objectives.
Once the committee completes its work, it will present its recommendations to the county commissioners.
All commissioners attended the meeting.