West Point to discuss tourism funds, depot rates at work session

Published 8:15 pm Wednesday, September 4, 2019

WEST POINT — The mayor of West Point seemed confident the rest of the city council will move the handling of its tourism dollars away from the LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce. 

Mayor Steve Tramell said although the city generates less than $1,500 a year in hotel/motel tax, it should just allow the Greater Valley Area Chamber of Commerce to handle those funds and distribute them in promoting the region. 

In July, the LaGrange City Council decided not to renew its contract with the LaGrange-Troup County Chamber, which has managed the city’s tourism budget for the past 28 years. The chamber also had similar contracts with West Point and Hogansville. 

LaGrange announced it would appoint a convention and visitors bureau to oversee tourism funding. In August, Hogansville also ended its contract with the chamber but hasn’t decided what do to with its hotel/motel tax as of Wednesday. 

Tramell said he doesn’t think LaGrange would be interested in handling Hogansville or West Point tourism funds because there just isn’t enough money. 

“I have sat in discussions with the county and other mayors, and right now the board in LaGrange doesn’t seem to have any interest in dealing with us (West Point) or Hogansville,” he said. “There is just not enough money being brought to the table.”

The West Point City Council will discuss what to do with its hotel/motel tax Thursday night at a work session. Also, on Thursday night, Tramell said the city will consider an application for its revolving loan fund. The fund is part of a grant given to the city through the Georgia Department of Community Affairs for community development. 

Most recently, Tramell said Ben Hamilton of Johnny’s Pizza in downtown West Point was the most recent applicant. Tramell said the money lent to Hamilton basically converts to a mortgage which he has been paying down. Tramell said there is about $180,000 in the fund, and it must be loaned out again or the city must pay back the money to the state. He said he wouldn’t identify the applicant Wednesday but said it is somebody who wants to renovate a building in downtown West Point. 

In other business, the council will continue discussing the rental rates at the West Point Depot. At the Aug. 8 work session for the West Point City Council, Councilwoman Gloria Marshall proposed the council consider lowering the price of the West Point Depot 10 percent to attract more usage.

During the meeting, there was a lot of discussion about how low to drop the price and whether the city should charge a bigger fee for out-of-city users and drop the rate for in-city users. The discussion was tabled when Marshall said she felt it would be best discussed when the entire council was available. 

Currently, The Depot rents for $1,010 from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. From 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the weekend, the price drops to $700. Nonprofits get a discount on rental rates.

During the week, a full-day — 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. — rents for $440 and a luncheon meeting — 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. — rents for $220.Weeknights from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. rent for $320.