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County puts tourism on hold until next year

Caitlin Rickard • Updated Oct 22, 2013 at 6:52 PM

The Wilson County Commission met Monday where the thought of a Tourism Department was again on the table.

Recently, the Development and Tourism Committee met two weeks ago where it presented a detailed job description for a single job they hoped to add to get tourism going and re-establish a Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.

The committee came to the consensus the department should hire one person, a CVB manager, to work in the mayor’s office and do work to help grow the county and tourism.

The committee later asked the Budget Committee for $99,000 to hire someone for the position, with the remaining money left over from its budget.

Commissioner Mike Justice said the job description “looked great” and would “give the county some accountability” for that department.

“I believe if they sell one good-size event, they’ll pay for themselves,” Justice said.

The Budget Committee then passed a motion that would allot the $99,000 to the Tourism Department.

Monday, a resolution for the additional appropriations to the county mayor’s office for tourism went before full commission, but not without conversation.

Commissioner Kenny Reich immediately brought up an amendment to the resolution that would make the funds available June 30, so the money would fall under next year’s budget.

“They can start the hiring process and what not right now, and the person could begin the position starting June 30, 2014,” Reich said.

Commissioner Jim Bradshaw then countered with an amendment that stated the funds should take effect Jan. 1, 2014.

“We can wait to do this,” Reich said. “I’m going to vote to hire this individual. I’m just saying let’s do it out of next year’s budget and not this year’s.”

Commissioner Clint Thomas, a strong advocate for the department, questioned waiting until June 30.

“Bottom line is, you either support it and what it can do for you, or you don’t. And that’s as simple as it is,” Thomas said. “We went and fixed everything that people asked, everything that was mentioned why people couldn’t vote for it was fixed. Period. You either vote ‘yes’ or you vote ‘no.’

“You can’t tell me with over $1 million out there in the departments so they can ‘feel safe’ we don’t have money for a department that actually brings us in cash flow?” Thomas said.

Bradshaw said this was something the county needed.

“This is something we need to go ahead and get implemented. There’s a lot going on in Nashville, and we need to reach out and try to take grab of a lot of these things that are happening around and could possibly come to Wilson County,” Bradshaw said.

A vote for the funds to take effect Jan. 1 failed by 17-8 vote.

The next vote to start June 30 passed 17-8.

The final vote, which included the original resolution with the amendment to take effect June 30, passed 19-5, with one abstention from Thomas.

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