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South Carolina in the 1980s established a two percent tax on overnight accommodations in addition to the statewide sales tax. State laws stipulates how those monies are to be allocated.
A small portion of the Accommodations Tax (ATAX) money stays in the local municipality or county where it is collected. The remainder must be used to attract and provide for tourists and must be spent on tourism-related expenditures.
Local revenues from the so-called "bed-tax" are designated to fund programs that promote tourism and attract visitors.
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State law providers for local government such as the City of Beaufort to establish advisory committees to review requests for Accommodations Tax revenue and to submit recommendations to the local government body.
The goal was to reduce political pressures and to increase local accountability.
Ultimately, though, the City Council makes the decision on how to spend the money.
The TDAC is an advisory body appointed by Beaufort City Council to:
In Fall 2014, the Tourism Development Advisory Committee included:
Applications were made available August 8 and the deadline for submittal was September 5. Applicants were required to make personal presentations of their requests to the committee on September 15.
For the current year, Fiscal Year 2015, the City of Beaufort allocated $230,000 in accommodations taxes for distribution.
Committee members reviewed each application, considered how the request fit into overall mission to promote tourism within the state's tax guidelines, and then heard in-person presentations from each group seeking funds.
One of the committee's priorities was stretching each grant dollar as far as possible. For instance, marketing materials and promotions that included an Internet component (website, Facebook, other social media, etc.) earned more attention that print-only projects. Projects that demonstrated partnerships with other organizations also earned attention.
The City Council is scheduled to discuss the Tourism Development Advisory Committee's recommendations October 14, 2014 with a final a vote and approval tentatively set for October 28.
For a complete listing of the Tourism Development Advisory Committee's recommendations, please view the TDAC 2015 Recommendations (PDF).
Although City Council may change the grants amounts recommended by the TDAC, the committee's funding list spends all but $16, 725 of the available $230,000. The largest recommended grants were: