Council to relook at H-Tax allocations

BLYHEWOOD – Town Administrator Brian Cook gave an overview of the Town’s proposed FY 2019-20 budget last week and announced a workshop schedule for council to work out the details of the $1,621,696 budget, which is up from $1,565,114 last year.

Looking at possible changes in budgeting for the coming year, Cook said council will be giving some attention to how it allocates hospitality funds in the future. He said there are several ways council might want to make changes.

“In the past, we’ve allocated sporadically without knowing at any one time how many groups we are allocating money to for the entire year,” Cook said in an interview with The Voice. “I would like to see us look at the allocations for the whole year at one time so we don’t spend it all before we get to an event or project that we really want to do and then realize we don’t have any left for something that  we feel is important. Council is going to look at the best use of the money.”

Cook said he would like to also look at specific projects that can be paid for with hospitality tax funds but that have been overlooked in the past. The new budget includes $10,000 for re-sodding and landscaping plantings and $500 for a new weed eater. About $7,000 was allocated from the current budget for a lawn mower, Cook said.

“We are going to do the mowing of the park and town hall area in-house now and discontinue the contract we currently have for mowing the park. We’re going to be saving money right out of the gate,” he said. “We’ll pay for the lawnmower in the first year.”

“There are a lot of things we can use hospitality funds for that are not event based,” Cook said.

“This [hospitality] money can be used to beautify the town and landscaping,” Cook said. “The entrances to the town, maybe lay some new sod at the entrance to the park, places that are weedy and pretty much dying. When you go around to other places like Killian’s Crossings and look at the medians planted with color, we could be looking at doing some of that.”

“Once we get to the May workshop, that’s when we will really get down to it,” Cook said.

Cook said council will also be looking at other ways they allocate hospitality tax money – where it’s going and how it’s being used.

At the April council meeting, Mayor J. Michael Ross told one event group that if they did not turn out better attendance numbers, the town might not continue to allocate hospitality funds for that event. He addressed the lack of local advertising by the event organizers.

At the April meeting, council heard requests for event funding from Blythewood Bikes & Beers for $8,750; from The Red Barn for $12,051.20, and The Blythewood Chamber of Commerce withdrew a request for $20,500 that Chamber Chairman-elect Phil Frye said would be requested at the May 9 workshop.

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