They may have approved the Peachtree City Convention and Visitors Bureau $532,021 budget, but it wasn’t without debate.
When CVB chair Kai Wolter presented the budget, noting the CVB’s chief job was to put “heads in beds” in the local hotel/motel community, he also pointed to its 2013 achievements - such as the Visitor Center Renovation, CVB Van purchase and wrap, producing a film tour video and launched a tour, initiated Sport Tourism efforts, and Hosted GACVB Winter Meeting - before presenting what they anticipate for 2014. Topping the list was the fact that the Hotel Tax Transfer from the city is budgeted to match the city’s FY2014 proposed budget. The CVB expects to hold the International Festival again next year, with registration fees collected in the amount of $2,500. The CVB has also budgeted for the Southern Hollywood Film Tour, which is budgeted to break even.
The CVB currently contracts with the city for marketing and administrative services using three city employees, allowing for a reimbursement of services of $167,000, which makes up about 80 percent of the salaries and benefits for the executive director, 73 percent for the business manager, 74 percent for the Sales and marketing coordinator/box office supervisor.
Professional Services includes a Social Media Consultant, Southern Hollywood Film Tour Drivers and the Sports Sales and Marketing Consultant who is budgeted at $36,000. Sales, Marketing and Promotion expenses comprise 66 percent of the FY2013 budget which reflects the continued focus on the main goals of the CVB mission, a large increase from last year due to funds being redirected to the renovation of the Visitors Center in FY2013. In FY 2014, the CVB will be updating the CVB Website and creating landing pages for the Sports Marketing Initiative as well as Family Reunions and other initiatives.
The Advertising Budget includes print and web advertising that reaches out to Convention Travel Sales, Sports Event Travel Sales as well as leisure travel. The CVB will also be developing a golf cart tour video as well as other marketing videos and comes in at $65,000.
Tourism Events include supporting city recreation product development, marketing efforts of the Amphitheater, international festival, the DIVA Half Marathon, Sports Grants and other miscellaneous events and trade shows. Included in Sales, Marketing and Promotion are travel to four trade shows during the year by the Sports Marketing Consultant and Sales and Marketing Coordinator to recruit sports tournaments, conferences, and reunions to Peachtree City.
Though most of the council expressed their agreement with the budget, Mayor Don Haddix disagreed and didn’t vote in favor, presenting a series of problems he found with the budget.
“We need to step back and get some facts on the table here. You have heard the statement, more than once, the CVB's mission is heads in beds. The purpose is, per O.C.G.A. 48-13-51:Planning, conducting, or participating in programs of information and publicity designed to attract or advertise tourism, conventions, or trade shows.”
'Heads in Beds' does not appear anywhere in the law. The CVB does not work for the Hotels and Motels. It works for all of Peachtree City, including the hotels and motels.
“Contrary to some claims, the Hotels and Motels do not pay the H/M Tax. They are a collection agency for Peachtree City. The tax is paid by those renting the rooms. That means individuals, businesses and Industries. The money was never theirs.
“You heard a reason to raise the H/M Tax rate was the claim people from outside Peachtree City pay the tax, not our residents. As I said before, that is false. Our business and Industrial residents are main users of the Hotels and Motels. They pay this tax. So do some homeowners for various reasons.
“Speaking with some in Peachtree City, the tax most assuredly impacts many of our businesses and industries negatively. It is a tax increase on them on top of the all the other increases with which they have been hit.”
Councilmember Vanessa Flesich said she felt that if there were any problems with rise in the tax within any of the city’s corporate residents, she felt that the council would have already heard their objections. Additionally, Wolter pointed out that for most companies, using NCR as an example, the companies outside the area sending employees to Peachtree City for training, actually pick up the tab for those hotel/motel stays.
The council ultimately passed the budget in a 3-1 vote.