Tourist Office Faces Rent Troubles

Dawson Countys workplace of tourist development has requested an extra $41,000 to cover its section of the lease at the Chamber of Commerce Welcome Center on Ga. 400.

Christie Haynes, president of the chamber and workplace of tourist development, told county commissioners Thursday that the request is a one-time aid and not the result of fund mismanagement or budget deficit.

The issue established, she stated, after a recent audit report suggested the tourist division might not pay rent to the chamber with limited hotel/motel tax funds as it had in the past.

[The] workplace of tourist development paying lease to the chamber is not a qualified expense because the two organizations fall under the exact same tax recognition number, she said.

Officials are taking steps, consisting of the creation of a holding foundation specifically created to handle the structure, intended to correct the issue.

While the procedure could take at least 4 months, as soon as complete both the chamber and tourist workplace will certainly pay lease to the foundation for utilizing the structure, Haynes stated.

In the meantime, nevertheless, the tourist division remains brief on funds to pay the lease.

In her presentation to the commission, Haynes highlighted 6 years of enhanced hotel/motel taxes in Dawson County, from $122,959 in 2008 to $233,794 in 2013.

She suggested the added funds originate from the countys part of unregulated hotel/motel tax money that went beyond the originally budgeted quantity, $18,439 in 2013 and $22,308 on 2014.

District 1 Commissioner Gary Pichon said Thursday the scenario felt like the film Groundhog Day to him.

Go back 10 years ago, the county was moving this money to a downtown development authority and upon legal testimonial by 2 outside firms, it was determined … that we were doing that improperly and that funding was cut off, he stated.

People took a look at the wholethe entire problem of stewardship and raised their eyes at us. Here we are, back at the same sort of trouble where were going to have to dip into our basic fund if we fix this thing, another $40,000.

He also questioned the chambers purchase of the welcome center building when the company was running rent-free in the county-owned historic prison.
As I remember … nobody came to us and said, lsquo; Heres what were going to do. Heres what were going to use the moneythe cash for. Whether that was a great choice or a bad choice, this board – who is the steward of this county – was not spoken with, he said.

I don’t think its reasonable to this board to go do these choices, put us on the hook for this money then return with these sort of conversations. Its not right.

Commissioner James Swafford asked if the chamber was eager to invest any of the cash it has held in CDs.

The purpose of that CD really, in basic, is to have a safety fund for the structure, Haynes said. However we all know that you never really wantwish to have an organization that has nothing in the bank.

Swafford included: Thats what our fund balance is for, too.

The commission is expected to vote on the request during its 6 pm conference July 17 at the Dawson County Government Center.