Letter to the Editor

Letters to the Editor, Jan. 7

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Hotel tax funds shouldn't fund Chamber

To the editor:

I am writing in response to your recent articles related to the proposed changes to the Shelbyville City Charter with specific regards to the Hotel Taxes and their use here in Bedford County.

Many residents are not aware that every visitor that stays in a Hotel, Motel, or Bed & Breakfast is charged a 7 percent hotel tax which is then paid to the city monthly. This tax is then placed in an account, minus a small processing fee retained by the city, and is currently used in full, by the Shelbyville-Bedford County Chamber of Commerce.

When this tax was implemented in the early 90s here in Shelbyville, and across the state, it was intended that these funds be used for marketing both tourism and economic development. And most cities in the state, the majority in fact, have done so very effectively. The mistake made here was that the wording of the law in our charter was vague, and in turn the Chamber is allowed to use these funds in all of their expenditures, including their operations budget.

We, along with almost every hotelier and bed & breakfast owner and operator in the county, have contacted neighboring cities and asked how their hotel taxes are distributed. We have researched this for the past three years, and created a proposal to bring Bedford County in line with the others, with no response from city officials. Many of these communities, including Tullahoma, Manchester, and Murfreesboro, split the taxes between various departments and organizations which have a direct relation to the individuals who actually pay this money, the visitors.

All of these communities only allocate a small percentage, many around 15 percent, to their Chambers, none of which can be used for operational expenses, only tourism and economic development purposes. Their Chambers of Commerce have found ways to be "self-sustaining" and do not need or rely on these tax dollars, something our Chamber has yet to accomplish.

Our Chamber depends on these funds in order to remain viable. Their operations budget for the year depends on this money to cover 90 percent of their total budget for the year, yet not one seat on the Chamber's board of directors is held by anyone in the hospitality industry, which generates the largest portion of their income.

Why is that? Why are the majority of these funds used for ribbon cuttings and antiquated marketing plans such as maps, brochures, and magazines? Where is the advertising blitz online promoting the tourism and pro-business and industry climate here in Bedford County? It does not exist, for the simple reason that leaders of the Chamber as well as city officials seem to forget that we live in the 21st Century, not the 19th....

The laws and distribution of these funds need to be changed, it is not fair to other city departments and organizations for the non-profit Chamber to receive these funds which go to pay the light bill, salaries of their two employees, a country club membership, yet they fail in promoting our community for which they were entrusted by us, the citizenry, to do.

R. Reece Cheramie,

General Manager/Director of Operations

Celebration Inn & Suites

Make a difference by voting

To the editor:

This letter is written to encourage voters to participate in their patriotic duty to VOTE in the Presidential Preference Primary for Tennessee. The Presidential Primary for Tennessee will be conducted on Tuesday, March 1, 2016. In order to vote in the Primary you must be Registered to vote by January, 31, 2016.

I urge everyone who has not registered to do so by going to the Election Commission Office. You will need to bring documents establishing your Tennessee residency and a valid government issued Photo-ID. See: http://www.tn.gov/safety/topic/photoids .

The 2016 election year will be the most consequential vote in decades due to the many problems in the governing of our nation and state along with the wildly divergent positions taken by the candidates.

Why is your vote important? In the 2012 Presidential Election, only 57.5% of (218,959,000) voting age population voted in that election (126,849,296). Of those, 51.1% voted for the Winner and 47.2% voted for the Loser.

This means that for the popular vote, the highest elected leader in the USA was elected by only 29.6% of voting age adults. 42.5% of the voting age population had to put up with the results of NOT voting. And if you don't vote, you have no basis to complain about the wisdom of the people who voted for the Winner. Even worse, because of the winner-take-all approach, rather than proportional, assignment of electoral college votes in our election system, the 27.9% who did go vote and voted for the Loser had their vote gain absolutely zero benefit.

Winner-take-all allocation of votes in the electoral college leaves massive numbers of people with no representation and should be rectified. So the current allocation method makes it extremely important you vote on election day. Indeed, in 1980 Political Strategist Paul Weyrich stated that he doesn't want everyone to vote because it would be bad for the party, as can be seen on YouTube. As a result we see several red states implementing voter suppression.

Politicians at the federal and state levels are supposed to vote the interests of the constituents in the district they represent. But thanks to the Supreme Court opening the floodgates of massive election spending by corporations, claiming corporations are "people", the politicians primarily vote the interest of "people" in Delaware or Nevada where most of these corporations are domiciled.

This same political strategist went on to co-found the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). ALEC puts on (private) meetings whereby state politicians wine and dine with corporate lawyers who have drawn up cookie-cutter templates of laws which benefit the corporations.

The state legislators then duly implement these corporate created laws into state codes. If you think that when this happens, YOUR interests are being considered, well I have about 100 acres of prime agricultural land resting on top of the Empire State Building that I will sell you cheap.

Kenneth Rodger Clark


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