By Connie Leinbach
The Hyde County Commissioners at their October meeting appointed five islanders to the newly created Tourism Development Authority Board.
The candidates proposed by Ocracoke Commissioner Tom Pahl and approved are Wayne Clark, Martha Garrish, Gregory Honeycutt, Daphne Bennink and Amy Howard.
Clark and Garrish, who are on the Ocracoke Civic and Business Association board, represent the lodging industry; Bennink the restaurants; Howard retail and Honeycutt nonprofits.
The commissioners approved the establishment of this authority at the June 5 meeting and a concurrent rise of the occupancy tax rate to 5 percent, up from three percent.
Currently, the Ocracoke Occupancy Tax Board is tasked with granting funding requests to island nonprofits from the occupancy tax collected on all lodging rentals year-round.
The second board will allocate the additional 2 percent monies collected that will be levied Jan. 1 when visitors paying for lodging will pay a total of 11.75 in taxes (sales and occupancy tax) on their rentals.
The N.C. state Legislature in 2006 approved for Hyde, among seven other counties, to impose this additional 2 percent rate to create a tourism development board (TDA), but it had not been enacted until this year.
State statute dictates that two thirds of the 2 percent collected must be regranted to tourism efforts.
The 3 percent occupancy tax was enacted in 1992, he said. A five-member board composed of island residents oversees and awards grants to nonprofits from this fund, which collects about $450,000 each year.
Hyde County Manager Bill Rich said in meetings earlier this year that most counties surrounding Hyde have occupancy tax rates of 6 percent and that the county expects to raise about $300,000 from this added tax.
Pahl said his next goal is to bring the two boards together in a public meeting to determine what grantees from the 3 percent funds can be transferred to the 2 percent consideration. That meeting date has not yet been set.
In addition, at the September board meeting, Pahl recommended two new appointees to the 3 percent Occupancy Tax Board.
Byron Miller of the Ocracoke Harbor Inn, and Nancy Leach, assistant director of student services for Hyde County schools, were approved to fill vacancies by David Styron and Marlene Matthews, who opted to leave that board.
The other three members of the Occupancy Tax Board are Bob Chestnut, chair, Stephanie O’Neal and Trudy Austin.