Aiken County Council approved a resolution to designate $20,000 in accommodations tax funds to three organizations.
The motion to approve the resolution was on Council’s consent agenda, which was voted on at the last regular meeting held Sept. 17. A total of $10,850 is going to the Sons of the Confederate Soldiers, which holds the Battle of Aiken. Olde Towne Preservation Association will receive $6,850 for its Living History Park and $2,300 will go to Gravatt Camp and Conference Center.
Accommodations tax funds are used for “tourism-related expenditures” and to promote local events in efforts to attract people from outside the area, according to state law. This money is generated by a tax that hotels collect. That tax is sent to the state and some of the funds are later returned to the County.
The Accommodations Tax Advisory Committee reviewed four applications for requested funds of $31,591.38 in June. All three of the organizations made requests as well as the St. Andrews Society. According to the County Tourism Division Head Robbie Bellamy, the reason St. Andrews did not document anyone from outside Aiken County attending its events. Drawing people from outside a 50 mile radius is required to receive accommodation tax funds.
Sons of the Confederate Veterans Commander Wayne Jones said that his organization will use the funds to market the 2014 Battle of Aiken which is marking its 149th year since the actual historic event took place.
People from all over east coast and some from across the country attend the annual event. Jones said not only do they want to share the story of the battle with anyone that they can reach but also shed light on Aiken County’s potential of being a tourism venue.
“We find that the Battle of Aiken is usually anywhere between a $3 million to $5 million revenue generator for the CSRA,” Jones said. “The key to this (tax) money is bring people from outside our local area.”
Bellamy said that these tax monies are very important because there are several local organizations that hold quality events that takes up a lot of their funding with very little left for advertising.
Amy Banton is the County reporter for the Aiken Standard and has been with the publication since May 2010. She is a native of Rustburg, Va. and a graduate of Randolph-Macon Woman’s College.