Formation of TDA discussed at commissioners' meeting

BAKERSVILLE – The Mitchell County Board of Commissioners at its regular meeting Monday, July 1, discussed the benefits of a tourism development authority, or TDA, following public comment from local freelance photographer Halley Burleson. 

Burleson, who works in tourism development in Burke County, spoke to the commissioners about the benefits of a TDA. 

“I think with the creation of the new hotel downtown, now would be a prime time to make a TDA in Mitchell County,” she said. “A TDA is not for profit. It’s dedicated to marketing the county.”

Burleson reiterated a TDA would not take the place of the Mitchell County Economic Development Commission or the Chamber of Commerce. 

Commissioner Jacob Willis and board chair Danny Burleson both said they are not against a TDA, but the funding of a potential TDA is the biggest roadblock.

“If you have a TDA, you have to funnel a lot of money through the EDC,” Willis said. “There’s not enough money to fund a full-time person for a TDA.”

County attorney Lloyd Hise said having a local TDA would require a change in laws. Under current legislation, Mitchell County’s occupancy tax, which includes hotels and local Airbnb rentals, goes to the Chamber of Commerce.

“We can’t make that change,” Hise said. “We can propose it, but the legislature has to change it.”

Mitchell County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Patti Jensen attended the meeting and added while Mitchell County does not have an established TDA, there is a local group that meets for discussions as an unofficial tourism committee through the Chamber. 

Jensen’s comments prompted commissioner Jeff Harding to ask the board for permission to add Jensen to the agenda a couple of times each year for a general report, including financials, from the Chamber. 

The board welcomed the idea, and Jensen said she would be happy to present.

“There is complete transparency,” Jensen said. “I’m fine with that and with telling you anything you want to know.” 

The MItchell News

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