State accommodations taxes available to tourism groups leapt 64 percent
State accommodations taxes available to local tourism groups in Summerville leapt 64 percent this year, to $179,868 from $109,627.
That was good news for most of the nonprofit groups seeking funding this week, as the citizen advisory committee recommended most of them receive 100 percent or close to 100 percent of their requests.
But that good fortune didn’t extend to Sculpture in the South, a group that has consistently received state and local accommodations and local hospitality tax revenues.
Robert Pratt, chairman of the state accommodations advisory committee, said the committee wanted to support Sculpture but wasn’t sure of its status.
Committee members thought the former executive director had resigned and heard that some board members resigned as well, he said.
With no one from the organization at the committee meeting, committee members couldn’t get their questions answered, he said.
A notation on the staff recommendation indicated the organization could be disbanding and that town staff was awaiting further information.
“We’re not really sure that they’re the same entity as when the (funding) application was put in,” Pratt said.
The committee’s vote appeared to catch the new director off-guard.
Jim Reaves, who serves as chairman of the town’s planning commission and has been involved with Sculpture since the beginning, will take on the directorship, though not until July 18.
That’s when current director Susan Frampton will step down. Frampton said she’d agreed to work as director for one year, and that year is up.
The arrangement with Reaves is so new he has yet to negotiate a salary with the board.
Reaves said he wants to re-energize the group.
“We are going to get out in front of things and do the mission that the organization was founded for,” he said.
Reaves and his wife sponsored the purchase of the sculpture “Free Ride,” a hippo that surfaces in the pond in Shepard Park.
He has served as logistics manager for the annual sculpture show for several years, according to a press release from the group.
Pratt noted his committee’s recommendations aren’t the final word. Town Council has final approval over distribution of funds, so it’s still possible Sculpture in the South could receive some state accommodations taxes.
The hospitality and local accommodations taxes are budgeted during the town’s annual budget process in the fall, and Sculpture could also apply for those funds.