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Contract inked on revenue from hotel-motel tax

POSTED: December 11, 2013 4:00 a.m.

A resolution signed last week outlines how much of the county's hotel-motel tax revenue will be split with the chamber of commerce for promoting tourism.

The Dawson County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved an arrangement for 2014 that gives the chamber about $181,000, plus $10,000 designated for the Dawson County Arts Council.

The amount equals 62.5 percent of all state restricted funds collected from hotel-motel taxes aside from a portion that goes to Amicalola Falls Lodge through the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, according to Commission Chairman Mike Berg.

The funds are restricted to promoting tourism and cannot be used for capital projects such as mortgage payments for the chamber's welcome center on Ga. 400.

"The money has to go toward tourism. They can spend some of the funds on utilities like electricity, gas and lights, but that's only a small portion," he said.

Christie Haynes, president of the chamber and office of tourism development, assured the commission that tourism dollars spent on utilities are calculated according to square footage in regards to how much space is designated for tourism at the welcome center.

"We've worked the situation so that tourism is paying rent for only their section of the building, per our auditor," she said.

Haynes said there are nearly four dozen tourism-generating attractions and businesses in Dawson, as well as several festivals and fairs that her office promotes.

"Even during the recession, our hotel-motel commissions continue to rise. That's something that I think says a lot about tourism as a sustainable economic development driver in our community," she said.

The impact of tourism in the county is 410 jobs and $100,000 a day in direct spending, according to Haynes.

"That's huge for a community of our size," she said.

District 1 Commissioner Gary Pichon has indicated that he may recommend a change in the county's contract with the chamber for 2015 that would allow more money to be designated for parks.

"I would say because we're charged with the distribution, we have a chance to try to affect that distribution," he said during the commission's meeting Nov. 14. "It just seems to me that ... we give them general direction on how to spend it.

"I'm looking at [20]15, saying I think we need to change those percentages."



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