Letter: Reroute half of occupancy taxes to infrastructure

Graphic by Lori Deaton

I think and truly believe it is a travesty that so much of the funds from the occupancy tax are rerouted to advertising for more tourism! I believe that at least 50% of what is taken in should be rerouted to taking care of our infrastructure.

The condition of our roads is atrocious. And I’m sure a lot of these conditions are due to the increase and excessive numbers of tourists.

We really don’t need to do more advertising to lure more tourism to this county and area. They are already coming in droves.

— Bern Sroka


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8 thoughts on “Letter: Reroute half of occupancy taxes to infrastructure

  1. kw

    Truly! It’s time to raise some hell, refuse to pay property taxes or go back to low-paying jobs, boycott local businesses, demand the recall of elected officials, park in the middle of streets. The time for talking is done, and we’re all blue in the face and tired of politicians shrugging and saying, ‘Oh, well, it’s the law.’ Really? Since when could laws not be changed? Do women not have the right to vote and be elected to local government ? Without early activists, 3 members of Asheville City Council might be the property of others. Laws get changed when people stop being apathetic and STAND UP. Civil Disobedience! Get loud, people! REJOICE!!

  2. Mike R.

    The most effective “pressure point” on change would be the hoteliers themselves. Up till now, they’ve remained silent in the shadows because they like most of the money going towards promoting more tourism so their hotels will stay full and they can charge high rates. Remember, it is their patrons paying the tax.

    Well organized, RESPECTFUL, LEGAL and ONGOING protests in front of these establishments might sway them to back fund redistribution and if they push for it, I rather imagine it will happen. Multiple, ongoing protests is what is needed; not just one flash in the pan large demonstration. Although a large kickoff demonstration at multiple hotels would be a great start.

    Research and follow the picketing ordinance as to what is legal and keep it that way. Set up a support website like 101 Charlotte St. Get people to volunteer for picketing and on a regular basis. Keep the discourse/signage respectful but firm. Let the hotel patrons know that while we appreciate their interest in Asheville, the hotel tax they are paying is unfairly distributed.

    Good luck!

    • luther blissett

      I tend to agree on this: if you want to take direct action, then picketing hotels is the most obvious way. Of course, some of the bigger players on the TDA board hide behind gatehouses and on private estates, but the BB&Arras is a good place to start given its prominence and John McKibbon’s broken promises on TDA reform.

      There’s also gentle, legal mischief. Book a bunch of rooms and cancel them within the appropriate time period. Quietly nurse a large coffee in the lobby so there are no empty seats. Fill a rooftop bar to capacity, order diet sodas for an hour, and enjoy the view. Get a busking permit and play really badly. Do a zombie walk on the sidewalk in a circuit from hotel to hotel. You don’t need signs or typical mass gatherings to make life awkward for the hoteliers when the patrons start to complain.

      • Mike R.

        It’s illegal to picket private residences.
        I still believe a lawful and visible picketing strategy is the most effective. It will attract the most press coverage, it will inform and educate the patrons of the hotels and it will make the hoteliers (and then others) uncomfortable.

        • luther blissett

          (I was referring to Biltmore and the GPI, but even they have to be reached via public roads with sidewalks.)

          Anyway, the standard avenues for political pressure haven’t worked, so direct action is what’s left.

      • Mike R.

        If somebody organizes this, I’ll volunteer to picket. I suspect there are many others that also would put in a few hours here and there to support it as well. Most civic minded citizens realize that the current funding allocation hurts Asheville more than it helps.

  3. Robert McGee

    As I was driving to and from the Woodfin Town Commissioners meeting last night to speak up about zoning codes, I was appalled by just how poorly maintained Richmond Hill Drive and other streets continue to be. It amazes me that the local mayors themselves are not openly contesting state mandates that waste TDA dollars that could so easily sustain roads, conserve areas near parks, forests, waterways, and do so much good for the long-term benefit of all. It’s really just basic business sense to reinvest in your own golden goose.

    An extra benefit is that locals wouldn’t view tourists with the disgust that they now do.

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