After unexpectedly delaying a decision on how best to divvy up accommodations-tax grants at the Sept. 20 Beaufort City Council meeting, Mayor Billy Keyserling on Tuesday recommended moving forward on an advisory panel's recommendations.
He had one caveat, though: The council should create a temporary committee to determine how that tax money is best used to attract tourists.
"I don't have a simple answer, and I don't want to hold up the process," Keyserling said.
During next Tuesday's meeting, council will reconsider the city's Tourism Development Advisory Committee recommendations on awarding $155,000 in grants. Ten Beaufort-area organizations applied for funds. The money must be spent on marketing and advertising that attracts tourists from beyond a 50-mile radius.
Councilman Mike McFee pointed to three guidebooks published by separate organizations as an example that many grant recipients duplicate efforts.
The committee would be charged with a plan that makes more efficient use of the money. This year, organizations requested approximately $319,000 in grants, more than twice what is available.
The grant money comes from taxes charged on every hotel rental.
Main Street Beaufort, USA, executive director Lanelle Fabian said she supports the idea of a temporary committee if it means clarity about what will be required of her organization. Fabian said she would like a quick resolution, however, because it is difficult to budget for Main Street without a firm number.
This year, Main Street applied for $72,000. The tourism committee recommended it receive $37,000. Organizations apply for grants annually.
Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/EyeOnBeaufort.