Lauding the magnificence of The Center for Rural Development, Girdler pointed out its attraction as a convention center. He said money generated by the 1 percent transient tax would be used to promote events at The Center.
“Now that we have ABC (legal sales of alcoholic beverages), new restaurants and businesses we need to attract conventions and bring in customers,” Girdler said. “And it won’t cost city taxpayers a cent,” he added.
A total (city-county) transient tax of 4 cents in the city is much lower than in other tourists areas, Girdler pointed out. He noted that Burnside has a similar tax.
“Our position is that we (Somerset) have been excluded ... and we no longer will be excluded,” Girdler declared. “We have not been invited to partner with the Somerset-Pulaski Convention and Visitors Bureau. We have been only a token ... we don’t have a place at the table. This (Somerset Tourist and Travel Commission) is the only we can be involved.”
A tourist and travel commission in Somerset would not need a staff,” Girdler noted. He said in the future several city departments, including Somerset Downtown Development Corporation, may be rolled together as one, and city employees would operate the commission.
Carolyn Mounce, executive director, Somerset-Pulaki Convention and Visitors Bureau, has been out of town this week and is not familiar with the city’s action in relation to forming its own tourism commission or levying a transient tax.
“Talking with the Commonwealth Journal by cellular phone, Mounce said she has had telephone calls with second-hand information, but knows nothing first-hand about the city’s action. Mounce is former Somerset Mayor J.P. Wiles’ sister.
She explained that the 3 percent transient tax which finances tourism promotion in Pulaski County was enacted by Pulaski Fiscal Court and is collected by the Convention and Visitors Bureau. The tax is collected from all lodging facilities in Pulaski County including those in the city.