To the editor:
I know many of you have heard about lots of exciting projects under design and in the City’s master plan. Just recently, the City of Pickens received $500,000 in federal grants for further development of our recreation property called, Town Creek Park. I read a comment recently that questioned why the City would apply for a grant that is really ‘tax dollars’. These grants are highly competitive and if we do not receive them, they will be spent somewhere else as they are part of the federal budget already.
A master plan for Town Creek Park was completed over a year ago and City Council voted to include some funding for it in the Hospitality Bond issued earlier this year. A combination of these $500,000 in grants and match funds will help phases 1-3 of the master plan be implemented over the next two years. The purpose of this letter is to educate those who may not be familiar with the State laws restricting the use of hospitality funds. Hospitality Funds come from a 2 percent tax imposed on prepared food and beverages. If you go out to eat in Liberty, Clemson, Central, Easley, Greenville, or most other cities, you most likely do not even notice this on your final bill. These funds are restricted in what they can be spent on by SC law SECTION 6-1-730. The following are the ONLY things hospitality funds can be spent on. They can’t be spent on repairing your sidewalk by your house or your water line. They can’t be spent to give all the police and fireman a raise, and they can’t be spent to install a new street light by your house. We have other funds and master plans for those projects too! Here is SC law 6-1-730:
(A) The revenue generated by the hospitality tax must be used exclusively for the following purposes: (1) tourism-related buildings including, but not limited to, civic centers, coliseums, and aquariums; (2) tourism-related cultural, recreational, or historic facilities; (3) beach access and re-nourishment; (4) highways, roads, streets, and bridges providing access to tourist destinations; (5) advertisements and promotions related to tourism development; or (6) water and sewer infrastructure to serve tourism-related demand.
We are very excited about developing the area around the recreation center and Town Creek Trail to enhance the trails that are already there and add in more leisure activies for families and tourists to enjoy. Our vision is that Town Creek Park will be a premier recreation facility in the upstate and will attract tourists from not only outside this region, but this state. We encourage you to view the full plan at www.towncreekpark.com and as always, citizens are welcome to speak at Council meetings which are the 1st Monday of each month.
Pickens Mayor David Owens