Saluda rushing for revenue from WEG

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, August 15, 2018

City trying to implement occupancy tax collections by end of month

SALUDA — After finding out the state did not approve a bill for Saluda, Tryon and Polk County to create a joint Tourism Development Authority, Saluda leaders are trying to quickly set up their own to collect occupancy tax.

The Saluda Board of Commissioners met Monday and set a public hearing and special meeting for 6 p.m. Friday, Aug. 24. The meeting will include hearing from the public about the city collecting its own occupancy tax, then a special meeting to appoint an authority, which will likely begin with three members, including commissioner Paul Marion as one voting member.

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City Manager Jonathan Cannon said the public hearing requires a 10-day public notice, so the earliest the hearing can be held is Aug. 24. The board of commissioners will also need to define the number of members of its own authority, adopt a resolution creating the authority and its bylaws and authorize the levy of the tax.

Mayor Fred Baisden said the reason the city is creating its own authority is because the state approved Saluda collecting its own occupancy tax (3 percent), then Polk County approached Saluda wanting to do the collection. Polk County’s proposed TDA included Saluda and Tryon, but legislators did not approve the bill earlier this summer.

The county agreed to give Saluda and Tryon 2 more percent of occupancy tax, and do the collections for the towns.

Baisden said the city should go ahead and do its own collections until the state approves the joint TDA, which will hopefully occur next year.

Saluda expects to collect about $5,000 this year in occupancy taxes, with Baisden originally saying collections prior to the World Equestrian Games is unlikely.

“At such time when the county gets their approval, we can go back and rescind our resolution and move to the county’s [TDA],” Basiden said.

Commissioner Paul Marion asked if Saluda absolutely cannot have collections in place by Sept. 1.

Cannon said by state statutes, collections have to occur on the first of the month and notices have to be sent out.

“A lot of people would not even receive their notices until after the first of the month,” Cannon said. “That would be aggressive.”

Marion said the WEG is probably going to be the busiest week coming up in the next few years.

Commissioners decided to hold the public hearing and special meeting on Aug. 24 and send out notices the next day. Cannon said Saluda may not capture every business that quickly, but employees can try.

County Attorney Jana Berg said the city could waive penalties for people who did not get the notice on time.

The city also plans to appoint board members to the authority during the special meeting.