We agree York County’s hospitality tax should go to projects throughout the county to bring tourists and revenue to all communities.
We also agree disparities in the distribution are evident. As Tom Smith, newly elected vice chairman of York County’s hospitality tax advisory committee, pointed out, these inequities could eventually force unincorporated areas to consider incorporation. Which in turn would lead to less of this tax revenue.
Lake Wylie is not a town, but has a population of 8,364, according to the latest U.S. Census in 2010. It would be fair to say these residents regularly frequent local restaurants where the this tax revenue is generated.
Lake Wylie’s tourist draw is the lake for boaters and fishermen with access at Buster Boyd Access Area, the most heavily used access area on the Catawba River. This is managed by Duke Energy.
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So what we have to ask the hospitality tax committee is: If you’re not drawing tourists to the areas where the hospitality tax is being charged, who do you think is paying this tax?
The majority would be from residents, dining at local restaurants.
While Carowinds draws tourists to the Fort Mill area and York County border, if you don’t put something on this side of the river, what’s to draw tourists here?
We already pay our county taxes. Now we’re paying county tourist taxes, too.
So far, Lake Wylie Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center has been granted $148,850 since 2007, when the tax was initiated. Lake Wylie has grown in these seven years from 12 to 24 restaurants, businesses collecting the 2 percent hospitality tax on prepared food and drink.
The town of Clover has been granted $300,000 for phase 1 of its park, the single largest amount in District 2. Note this is an incorporated area.
District 2 has generated the second largest amount of hospitality tax in the county of more than $2.7 million or 22.9 percent of the tax revenue. Yet, the money coming back is $448,850.00 or 5.6 percent.
We realize the tax only can fund projects presented to the county, and if unincorporated areas like Lake Wylie aren’t submitting ideas then it has to go somewhere else. But that isn’t the case here.
For more than 10 years, Lake Wylie area representatives Perry Johnston, Tom Smith and Bruce Henderson have been working on plans for a park. Securing the land near Crowders Creek. Developing the plans. Yet, when requesting funding through this hospitality tax, the hoops are endless. The county continues to stall this plan, an epic fail for a growing community without a park or recreational sites other than the lake’s access area.
Lake Wylie does not have tourist-driven parks or county facilities. The Lake Wylie area is a great asset to the county. Yet the county appears blind to the gem they have here, and what it could do to bring tourists and better quality of life to all areas of the county.
While, yes, the hospitality tax should go to countywide projects, we believe weighted consideration should be given to areas where the tax is being heavily generated. So little has been given back to those areas.
We’ll call it the seven year itch. Because we’re itching to see some of the hospitality tax money fund used to draw visitors to our area and show them this part of York County is worth the trip.