Previously I posted Carol Ross’ questions about the proposed Smoky Mountain Tourism Authority because she raised good questions and I didn’t have time to read the resolution when it passed the Commission. Now that it been introduced at the State level, I have read it and believe it will be a disaster for the Citizens of Blount County.
Tourism already exist within County government, as cost center 58110. It’s line item budget is part of the County General Fund budget. This bill creates a Tourism Authority that is separate from the County, similar to the PBA and the Industrial Development Board. Authorities and discrete component units can be dangerous to we people and we shouldn’t let this slide by without close examination.
7 of the 10 positions on the Board (70%) will be private business owners, not elected by anyone. After a parcel of property is paid for, the Board will also be given 70% of the hotel tax. Private business owners will have control of public tax money to spend as they see fit to promote tourism. This stinks! It is crony capitalism (fascism), where some local good ole boys will have their hands on a pile of money to promote their businesses at tax payer expense.
Why would the Commission give up oversight on public tax money, especially when our County is in debt $225 million? Do they not feel qualified to spend our tax dollars wisely? If not, we need new Commissioners. Why can’t these businesses do their own tourism promotions? Why are citizens sitting back and letting their tax money be handed over to a small group of private business owners to spend this tax money for any purpose of the board including the promotion of tourism, the maintenance, staffing and supplying of public visitor centers in the County, and the undertaking of any projects, including the financing thereof?
For more on this matter, read Commission Jim Folts January 2012 report.
This must be stopped! It’s time to stop handing our tax dollars to unelected bureaucrats and businesses.