In a very positive first legislative step, North Carolina’s House passed a bill on June 15 that will allow the City of Sanford to enact a hotel occupancy tax to generate funds that will promote the community’s tourism and visitors’ services. Lee County Representatives John Sauls (R) and Robert Reives II (D) promoted the bill, which passed by a 99-16 vote. The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration, where Senator Ronald Rabin (R) has sponsored similar legislation and is pledging his support.
If the bill becomes law, Sanford City Council will have legal ability to levy a 3% lodging tax and to earmark those funds to a newly created Sanford Tourism Development Authority. The tax income will fund the Sanford Area Growth Alliance’s recently formed Visitor Services group and allow SAGA to dramatically increase its ability to promote tourism in the region. Visitor Services under the direction of Crystal McIver has been collectively funded by the City of Sanford, Lee County and SAGA to date, but financial support from the governments is scheduled to end at the end of 2017.
SAGA CEO Joy Thrash appreciates the advocacy of the area’s legislators and is optimistic a bill will get approval in both chambers. Sanford Mayor Chet Mann concurs, and notes that tourism funds “will have far and last effects on how Sanford presents itself.”
For more coverage of this important legislation, click here for Zachary Horner’s Sanford Herald article.