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Bluffton panel recommends ATAX funding for four local groups

File: Heyward House Historic Center docent Sonie Phinney-Miller, right, gives a tour of the historic Bluffton house Sept. 16, 2013, to Joy Tinney, of Bloomingdale, Ga., and Tinney's children, from left, Luke, 11, Caroline, 1, and Kate, 12.
File: Heyward House Historic Center docent Sonie Phinney-Miller, right, gives a tour of the historic Bluffton house Sept. 16, 2013, to Joy Tinney, of Bloomingdale, Ga., and Tinney's children, from left, Luke, 11, Caroline, 1, and Kate, 12. jkarr@islandpacket.com

Four Bluffton groups could be in line to receive more than $86,000 in public money to help promote tourism in the town.

The town's Accommodations Tax Advisory Committee met Monday to recommend how to divvy up Bluffton's quarterly share of accommodations tax, or ATAX, revenue.

The ATAX money, which must be used to pay for programs that promote tourism and attract visitors, comes from a 2 percent tax on overnight lodging collected by the state and redistributed to counties and municipalities.

Local organizations then request specific funding amounts to help pay for events and advertising.

The committee recommended funding for the following groups:

  • Farmers Market of Bluffton Inc.: $14,142.45
  • Bluffton Historical Preservation Society (Heyward House Historic Center): $50,000
  • Greater Bluffton Chamber of Commerce (Taste of Bluffton): $10,000
  • Old Town Bluffton Merchants Society: $12,000

The town council has the ultimate say in how the money is disbursed.

While council members use the committee's recommendations as a tool to guide funding decisions, the recommendations are not always followed.

In August, the council awarded $82,000 in quarterly ATAX money to six groups.

Follow reporter Lucas High at twitter.com/IPBG_Lucas.

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