$75,000 cut from Bath County’s Chamber of Commerce budget

Bath County Visitors Center

BATH COUNTY (WSLS 10) – A community is questioning how it will continue to attract business after a $75,000 budget cut.

For Bath County, tourism is the life blood of the close-knit community; however, right now, a closed sign hangs in the window of the visitors center and there are concerns if the center will reopen.

It’s all stems from a decision made Tuesday night behind closed doors before the Bath County’s Board of Supervisors public meeting.

“I will not support them when they have money in the CDs, money in the bank and then asking us money from the tax payers whether it’s lodging tax, whether it’s transit tax or whether it’s general funds,” said Board Vice Chair Richard Byrd.

Richard Byrd, said the board made a budget cut decision. It’s came down to a 4-to-1 vote to eliminate the position of the county’s tourism and economic development director.

“It’s kind of disheartening. Mrs. Anderson, who was the economic and tourism director, has worked very hard to bring Bath County into many areas of the country,” said Jonah Windham, the owner of The Vine Cottage Inn.

Now, the responsibilities of the tourism director will be managed by Anderson’s assistant, according to Byrd.

The board also voted 3-to1 to cut $75,000 from the Chamber of Commerce’s budget, which represents three-quarters of the chamber’s entire budget.

“We were blindsided by this. We were told at the beginning of the year when the budget was approved that we were allotted this money and then it was just taken away from us,” explained Emily Plecker, the former director of the chamber.

The chamber used $12,000 to operate its tourism marketing efforts and $63,000 to run the tourism center. Now, Plecker questions how they will continue to grow business and attract visitors.

“I don’t want to shut them down. We don’t want to shut them down,” continued Plecker.

Byrd hopes this budget cut will allow the county to spend more money on advertising and continue to bring people into the area.

Pleckler said the chamber is holding a community forum on Monday at 6 p.m.at the Milboro Fire Station and is hoping for change.

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