Bell Tourism exceeds financial expectations

Published 8:22 pm Thursday, June 28, 2018

The Bell County Tourism Commission discussed the organization’s financial report during a regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday. According to Tourism Director Jon Grace, the commission exceeded expectations.

“I told you all when you hired me I like to be conservative when it comes to this stuff,” said Grace. “I never want to be in a situation where we’re spending more, project more that we actually do.”

Grace explained that the commission already exceeded expectations by $20,000 without the month of June — which is the organizations busiest month, according to the director.

Grace pointed out that they noticed an uptick in the restaurant tax with the tax doubling. Board chairman Mike Long said there were some businesses that hadn’t paid in a while, but a check was recently written for close to $8,000 or $9,000.

“They are on a little bit of a better system,” said Long. “They put in some software to track it and also mark people off as they pay it.”

The board approved the financial report after discussion.

The commission also discussed the minutes from the previous meeting. During the last meeting, the board held a conversation about the Appalachian Wildlife Foundation. Grace said he received an update from David Ledford about the project.

The tourism director said there have been some negative rumors floating around about the project.

“David came down and assured me it’s actually the exact opposite,” said Grace. “They’ve acquired a lot more money through low-interest loans.”

The opening date for the project has been pushed back, according to Grace. Originally slated to open in 2019, it is now set to open in 2020.

Once the discussion was finished, the board approved the minutes from the previous meeting.