TDA promotes itself in advertising? Merrimon Avenue signs MIA?

Today’s batch of burning questions, my smart answers, and the real deal:

Question: I was reading your article this morning online when I was greeted by a huge advertisement from BCTDA telling me how wonderful they are. This was not an advertisement visiting our beautiful city, but an advertisement specifically calling out their awesomeness and that I should love them. Since they are funded by taxes, this seems like a legal issue…essentially, aren’t they using taxes to lobby for themselves rather than getting people to visit Asheville? It can’t be in the law that mandates their existence, can it? What is the problem? As my children say, seems “sus”.

My answer: On the hip front, I’d like to note that in this case, I only Googled “sus” to confirm my, ahem, suspicion that it means “suspicious” or “suspicious.” I feel like I’m becoming a difficult slang geezer.

True answer: The Buncombe County TDA is the parent organization of Explore Asheville Convention and Visitors Bureau. TDA spokeswoman Kathi Petersen said she “appreciated the opportunity to provide more information about the Explore Asheville public outreach program that has been in place over the past few weeks.

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“The purpose was to raise awareness of the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority’s Tourism Product Development Fund 2022 grant round – specifically to invite non-profit organizations and municipal partners in Buncombe County to apply for funding for capital projects,” Petersen said via email. “With $15 million expected to be available in the Tourism Product Development Fund this year, we wanted to make sure that as many community members as possible were aware of the information session we hosted on the 4 May and the Phase One grant application deadline of June 1.

The advertisements also gave an overview of past projects supported by the fund. The TDA will announce the scholarships at the end of October.

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Regarding funding for the announcement, Petersen agreed that the TDA “has a fiduciary responsibility to ensure that occupancy tax monies are spent in accordance with specific state legislation governing their use.” .

The state law that created the TDA in 1983 requires the authority to devote 75% of occupancy tax revenue to promoting and marketing the area and 25% to the Tourism Product Development Fund. The Legislature is set to pass a new law this week that would change that formula to two-thirds promotion, one-third TPDF.

“If this legislation is passed, it is expected that $10 million to $13 million will be available for community projects in fiscal year 2023,” Petersen said.

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But in any case, self-promotion of the TDA is not allowed with revenue from occupancy tax, a 6% tax paid on hotel rooms, vacation rentals, and bed and breakfasts. .

“The reader is correct that the use of occupancy tax revenue for this local public outreach program would not be permitted,” Petersen said. “Instead, it was funded by revenue generated from ad sales on ExploreAsheville.com.”

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These revenues also allow the TDA to invest in community festivals, cultural events and local sponsorships, Petersen said.

Incidentally, since its inception over two decades ago, the TPDF has provided $44 million in grants to 39 capital projects.

Question: The middle section of the large exit sign on I-240 for Merrimon Avenue (exit 5A) has been missing for some time, making it a bit difficult to decipher, especially for those unfamiliar with the freeway, like the large number of exits -of city drivers. Any idea when it might be replaced? Or is changing the name to “Me…on” part of Merrimon’s planned road diet?

My answer: God knows what “Me…on” means in slang. I won’t even check. I’ve grown enough for one day.

True answer: Anna Henderson, a traffic engineer with the North Carolina Department of Transportation’s Asheville office, said the DOT ordered the sign in January.

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“The sign manufacturing plant has experienced the same shortages as many others in the construction industry,” Henderson said by email on June 22. “Fortunately, they hope to have fabrication completed within the next few weeks. Once fabrication is complete, we will schedule the installation during off-peak hours with our contractor.”

This is the opinion of John Boyle. To submit a question, contact him at 232-5847 or [email protected]

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