Letter: Return lodging tax dollars to city

Graphic by Lori Deaton

I would like to comment on Stephanie Brown’s letter [“Lodging Tax Supports Local People,” May 15, Xpress]. While she paints a rosy picture about the benefits of the hotel boom, there is something that matters at least as much as money: quality of life. While I have no doubt many locals are reaping the rewards of the influx of tourist dollars, I suspect the big winners are the corporations.

While those people who are coming here to “launch and live their dreams” may be bringing fresh ideas and assets, how many of them can actually afford to live here? How many locals can find a parking spot to enjoy the local venues they have supported for years? How many mountain views have disappeared from the city? While all of that tax money goes to bring even more tourists here, who is footing the bill for public services, street repair and rising real estate taxes?

Has the city imposed a 1% fee on new buildings for public art? Do we have to wait until someone dies falling from the beer cycle because of a giant pothole to get it fixed?

It seems ironic to me that, now you talk about sustainability? Now, as the city and county are finally, maybe, starting to emerge from a greed-induced stupor. With a zoning board that never met a variance they didn’t like and a planning commission that apparently doesn’t know the meaning of the word planning, you want to talk about sustainability. I fear your sustainability is going to come on the backs of the residents. It’s like a developer bulldozing an orchard to build cookie-cutter houses and then naming the development “The Orchard.” It just might be too late.

I agree with you, Ms. Brown, [Asheville] is an awesome town with a rich diversity of unique businesses and activities. That is why most of us live here. However, this is not Disney World. When the tourists leave, we don’t take off our Goofy costumes and head home. We live, work and play here and are left to clean up the trash, accidents, puke and exhausted, underpaid and underappreciated service workers who take great care of us and our visitors.

My suggestion is that you return at least half of the $23 million to the city for pothole repair, public services and maybe even some wage assistance. I have no doubt you could still promote our town quite successfully with $11.5 million.

Hey, that’s just my opinion, I could be wrong.

— Ron Greenberg


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3 thoughts on “Letter: Return lodging tax dollars to city

  1. TDA is corrupt and must be stopped

    Here Here Mr. Greenberg!
    Well put – I would not stop at 50%. I say 100%, the TDA has done nothing positive for the citizens of Buncombe County. They give us measly leftovers and tell us we should be thankful, when the whole meal should have been ours in the first place. I would rather not have an occupancy tax and abolish the TDA than have the TDA in the first place, After all, Mrs. Brown, won’t that leave more money for the tourists to spend here?
    The TDA is on a campaign to win over the hearts of the citizens, they are advertising on local sites trying to trick locals into believing that the TDA taking local tax money and spending at their will is in our best interests. Don’t be fooled by the silver-tongued CEO that makes a 1%er salary off of local tax money, the TDA is terrible for the local everything.

  2. jonathan wainscott

    In order to change how the hotel occupancy tax is spent, the law that dictates its current use needs to be changed. Julie Mayfield has said there is little chance that will happen. She has shown no desire to advocate for the change and has signaled to the BCTDA that she will be in no hurry to make the change once she is sworn in as the new NC Senator replacing Terry VanDuyn.

    • TDA is corrupt and must be stopped

      But the Buncombe County commissioners could vote to repeal the tax, effectively shuttering the BCTDA. Then replace the tax with an annual occupancy license fee which would go directly to the county. The BCTDA has run it’s course, time for it to be gone.

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