Frequently Asked Questions
City of Beaufort Accommodations Tax Advisory
October 20, 2016
1. What is the ATAX?
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.
2. Who decides how to spend the money?
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.
3. What is the Beaufort Tourism Development Advisory Committee (TDAC)?
The TDAC is an advisory body appointed by Beaufort City Council to recruit appropriate applicants for Accommodations Tax grants, to screen the requests, conduct interviews as needed, and then submit recommendations to the Beaufort City Council.
In Fall 2016, the Tourism Development Advisory Committee included Jonathan Sullivan (chair),
Laura McAlhaney, Jane Sidwell, Mary Ann Solem, Vimal Desai, Susan Sauer and Gail Westerfield.
4. How did the TDAC decide who to recommend for funding for Fiscal Year 2017?
Applications were made available August 8 and the deadline for submittal was September 23. Applicants were required to make personal presentations of their requests to the committee on September 30. For the current year, Fiscal Year 2017, the City of Beaufort allocated $282,867.38 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.
5. What is the Beaufort City Council's role in this?
The City Council is scheduled to discuss the Tourism Development Advisory Committee's recommendations October 18, 2016 with a final a vote and approval tentatively set for Oct 25, 2016.
6. So...who is recommended to receive money in this fiscal year?
For a complete listing of the Tourism Development Advisory Committee's recommendations, please click here.
Although City Council may change the grants amounts recommended by the TDAC. The largest recommended grants were:
- $90,000 to the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce for general marketing
- $75,000 to the University of South Carolina - Beaufort Center for the Arts for renovations
- $35,000 to Main Street Beaufort for special projects, events and destination marketing
- $35,000 to the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce for Visitors Center operations
- $30,000 to the Black Chamber of Commerce for cultural marketing/Gullah Festival/Gullah Christmas
- $20,000 to Santa Elena Foundation for general marketing