Heyward House gets county chairman's backing

December 8, 2008 

Despite having $100,000 fewer bed-tax dollars to dole out this year, the Beaufort County Council found a way to give Bluffton's Heyward House Historic Center a small boost over last year.

The county's Accommodations Tax Board originally suggested cuts for all but three of 26 groups that received money last year. The Heyward House's allotment was reduced from $25,000 to $14,000.

But at the urging of County Council Chairman Weston Newton, the council shifted $12,000 back to the Heyward House, which is run by the Bluffton Historical Preservation Society. That's a $1,000 increase over last year.

Newton, who represents Bluffton, said maintaining the level of Heyward House's allotment is a matter of

fairness. Last year, the Bluffton center's request was cut in half from $50,000 to $25,000, with that money redirected to the county's Parks & Leisure Services Department to promote the Dixie Junior Boys World Series in Bluffton.

Newton said he simply wants Bluffton to get a reasonable share of the $225,000 available from bed taxes.

The $12,000 increase for the Heyward House had been allotted to the Beaufort Redevelopment Commission and the Beaufort-Port Royal Convention and Visitor's Bureau to study the need for a convention center in northern Beaufort County.

Unless the full council overturns the committee's decision, neither the redevelopment commission nor the convention and visitors bureau will get money this year. The council votes today.

Beaufort city manager Scott Dadson said he's "greatly disappointed" the money was moved south of the Broad River because there's a push to revitalize northern Beaufort County.

Maureen Richards, Heyward House director, said some of the extra money will be used to pay employee salaries at the house, which is Bluffton's official welcome center and is open six days a week.

"I was nervous we wouldn't have any money for upkeep and we wouldn't be able to deliver on our promises," she said.

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