Request for 250K to Fill Southwest-Related Hole

Warwick Jones
Citizen Reporter

At the May 3 Charleston County Council Finance Committee meeting there were but two items of interest on the agenda.

The first related to a request from the Charleston Area Convention and Visitors Bureau for additional $250,000 in funding from the Accommodation Tax.

The money is needed help to fill the hole created by providing $800,000 to Southwest Airlines for advertising.

Southwest requested $1.6 million from Charleston and Greenville ($800,000 each) and matched the amount with its own funds of $1.6 million to promote the airline’s new service to South Carolina, according to information provided during the meeting.

County staff, in its written comments, was clearly concerned about the request and about the future trend in Accommodation Tax receipts. It advised caution but opined that the funds were there for an allocation of $250,000 in 2011 or 2012.

There was no discussion on the request. Chairman Teddie Pryor Sr. announced before the meeting that the request had been deferred for further study.

The other item related a request for greenbelt funds for the Cultural Life and Enrichment Center Project. The group is seeking property on which to construct facilities. Its project was endorsed by the Greenbelt Bank but deemed too expensive.

County council advised the group to talk to the town of Ravenel about using property it owned. But according to a principle of the group, the mayor of the town has no interest in discussing any potential use.

There were sharp exchanges between Council members Henry Darby and Colleen Condon as to whether the council had fulfilled its promises to the group.

We won’t point a finger at anybody except to say that there also seems to be some misunderstanding on the part of the group as to what is required to obtain greenbelt funds.

Warwick Jones is a resident of Charleston and has been involved with a number of area organizations, including the Charleston County Greenbelt Advisory Board and the Preservation Society of Charleston.

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