At the City Council Meeting on Monday, Sept. 25, several requests will be presented through a budget amendment ordinance due to several unique opportunities to promote economic activity and tourism this year using funding from the Hospitality Tax.
The Fiscal Year 2017-18 Hospitality Tax request includes the following:
$100,000 for Entryway Enhancements
$100,000 for Parkway Improvements
$60,000 for three local museums
After seeking the opinions of the public and various groups during a number of meetings, we propose several entryway improvements, including signage and streetscaping at the gateways to the City of Aiken. One public input session for Richland Avenue improvements has already taken place and another will be held next month to collect additional input. These improvements will include new lettering and graphics at the airport, reflecting the name change from Aiken Municipal Airport to Aiken Regional Airport. Bids are currently being obtained and staff will amend the project scope if necessary to stay within the budgeted dollar amount, which would not exceed $100,000.
An amount not to exceed $100,000 is being requested for improvements to parkway connectivity. Multiple meetings with stakeholders found a desire to encourage a more active use of the parkway system, our most unique Aiken feature, while maintaining the charm and essence these parkways provide. A $25,000 donation was procured already to improve lighting, put in walkways, and a gathering area for the Teague Parkway – located at the 200 block of Park Avenue SW between Laurens Street SW and Newberry Street SW. The requested money in this case would help complete the work listed above and improve other parkways downtown
Aiken is home to several museums that showcase unique aspects of the city’s history. These museums are: the SRS Heritage Museum [224 Laurens Street SW], the Center for African American History Art and Culture [120 York Street NE] and the Aiken Visitors Center and Train Museum, highlighting the railroad’s tremendous impact on our history [406 Park Avenue SE]. An allocated amount of $60,000 would be divided equally into $20,000 increments to the three facilities. It is proposed that this would be an annual payment directly to the entities for the next five years, budgeted and reviewed by Council each year. There will be three requirements for each of the museums in order to receive the funds.
- Before receiving the funds, the museums will provide a plan on how funds will be spent and that the spending plan is completed by each museum
- A copy of the guest book showing all visitors’ names and town to document in-city and out-of-city residents
- Inclusion of the City’s logo or tourism logo on their website candor in marketing pieces
This Hospitality Tax Fund request includes a proposal that Hospitality Tax funds only be used for ‘brick and mortar’-related projects.
Staff from the Community Affairs and Tourism Division and the City Manager’s Office will monitor these expenditures and review their annual financial reports.
Research on similar Hospitality Tax use found South Carolina municipalities including Columbia, Spartanburg, Charleston, Anderson, and Greenville utilize their funds in similar fashions, apportioning some of their annual Hospitality Tax proceeds to local museums and other similar facilities.
In future fiscal years, these requests would only be considered during the budget preparation process.
For further reading on the Sept. 25 Council Meeting, click here.