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Tryon joins tourism development authority with Polk, Saluda

TRYON — The Town of Tryon decided to join a new tourism development authority with Polk County and the city of Saluda.

The Tryon Town Council met Tuesday, and approved joining the TDA. By joining the county’s TDA, Tryon will receive 5 percent of its occupancy tax instead of the current 3 percent it receives from lodging in Tryon.

Commissioner Bill Crowell said he thinks joining the TDA is good for the town. He also said if Tryon is unhappy, Saluda would likely also be unhappy, and the two towns could go to state legislation together to get the agreement terminated.

Crowell also said he likes that the agreement means extra money for the town, and that the town does not have to administer the tax.

“It seems like there are more positives than negatives,” commissioner Bill Ingham added.

Tryon Mayor Alan Peoples said last year, the town received approximately $26,000 in occupancy tax revenues and with the county TDA, the ‘town’ should receive an estimated $35,000 per year.

Saluda approved joining the TDA last month. Columbus is not joining the TDA at this time.

According to the inter-local agreement approved, the county will place each town’s portion of their own tax in a grant fund, and as long as the grant has sufficient funds and the town’s request meets all requirements, the county TDA will approve the request.

The county is seeking special legislation to be able to collect 6 percent of occupancy tax throughout the county, in all but the town limits of Columbus.

Currently, the county collects 3 percent of occupancy tax throughout the county, including all three towns, and the towns collect 3 percent.

Saluda recently got approval from state legislation to collect its 3 percent occupancy tax, so by joining the county TDA, Saluda will not have to create a board or administer collecting the tax.

Another part of the interlocal agreement includes that each towns funds rollover from year to year, so if Saluda or Tryon has a big expenditure it wants to save for, that would be possible.

The county plans to request state approval for the new TDA during legislation’s next session in May.