Letter: Tourism revenue could support housing for officers

Graphic by Lori Deaton

[Regarding “TDA Discusses Concerns Over the Decline in Tourism,” Sept. 6, Xpress:]

There is much to say about safety concerns in and around downtown Asheville. I read today that both the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Department and the Asheville Police Department are experiencing unfilled sworn positions in excess of 25%. Comments by those interviewed for the article suggested a contributing factor may be the high cost of living in Asheville and the surrounding area.

If the Tourism Development Authority feels strongly enough about taking steps to reduce common street crime and other headline-grabbing crimes, perhaps using a portion of tourism revenue to subsidize the cost of local housing for officers would help. The subsidy could be targeted toward enhancing the compensation package available to the Asheville police for retaining existing officers as well as bringing new hires to the Asheville area.

In extraordinary times, organizations that depend on the largesse of tourists must consider extraordinary solutions. Because there are no guarantees of a direct relationship between reduced crime and increasing tourism, the subsidy program could be funded for an initial limited period, e.g., four to five years. Thereafter, if recruitment and retention of officers increase, and city crime statistics markedly improve, a decision can be made whether to continue the program.

— Mike Walker

Black Mountain


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3 thoughts on “Letter: Tourism revenue could support housing for officers

  1. therealduckie


    The North Carolina General Assembly created the local TDA in 1983, with the authority receiving nearly all of its revenues from a now-6% occupancy tax on hotels, vacation rentals and bed & breakfast lodging. Its state-mandated distribution model requires the TDA to spend 75% of revenue on advertising and promotion, and 25% on its Tourism Product Development Fund, which funds projects and venues that can result in visitors staying in the area longer.

    That said, the state legislation restricts spending to advertising or funding of projects that can result in hotel stays or extensions.

    Therefore, no. Their budget can not be used for funding Law Enforcement, either legally or wishfully.

    As a final note, even BEFORE the pandemic, occupancy at local hotels/motels/etc was only 70%. They have to do a better job at raising our national visibility and overall occupancy rates before they can even bother with considering other spending/amenities.

    • NFB

      It is amazing how many people don’t understand how the room tax works.

      Since the letter writer lives in Black Mountain I suggest he contact his Republican State Senator Warren Daniel who could introduce a bill that would change the law to allow tax dollars to pay for services that tourists use while they are here, such as police and fire protection.

      Not that it is likely to make much difference since Republicans in the legislature have almost as much contempt for people who live in Asheville as the TDA does.

  2. gapple

    Why should tourism pay for the failed progressive leftist democrat policies that the citizens of Asheville voted into law? You broke it, now fix it on your own dime.

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