County joins Visit LaGrange
Published 7:15 pm Tuesday, December 3, 2019
Starting Jan. 1, Visit LaGrange will become the vehicle to use hotel/motel tax to promote Troup County, due to a deal between the newly formed tourism board and the county.
On Tuesday, the Troup County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a contract to allow Visit LaGrange Inc. to manage county tourism funds received from the hotel/motel tax, according to a budget established by the county. According to County Manager Eric Mosley, Troup County receives between $45,000 and $60,000 a year from hotel/motel taxes. Those funds are designated by the state to be used exclusively on expenditures that encourage tourism. The LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce managed those funds until June 30, although the Troup Count Board of Commissioners did not vote to end the contract with the chamber until Sept. 4.
“When the LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce canceled their contract with us for the management of the hotel/motel taxes, all three cities and the county basically took responsibility of that money,” Mosley said. “By state law, we’re required to have a 501(c)6 to manage that money, so any money that’s expended from that account has to be expended from 501(c)6.”
Visit LaGrange was established to be the destination marketing organization for the City of LaGrange, which receives the largest amount of hotel/motel taxes since it has the most hotels within its limits. The county only receives funds for hotels and motels in unincorporated Troup County, and Mosley said because of the amount of tourism funds that Troup County has to manage annually, it would not make sense for the county to establish a separate 501(c)6 to make use of those funds. However, Mosley said that the county would actually have more control over how its tourism funds are spent then it did through the contract with the chamber.
“Troup County will be ultimately responsible for creating a budget for that money,” Mosley said. “We do have some ideas of how we’d spend it. It has to be spent on marketing Troup County, so that’s putting out videos, print media, attracting conferences and tournaments, that kind of thing.”
Commissioner Morris Jones asked if the county would be able to review the budget for how county tourism dollars are spent annually, and Mosley said yes. Mosley also highlighted the county’s ongoing role in attracting tourism to LaGrange and Troup County through sports tournaments.
“We assist a lot in that because a lot of the money comes in through our recreational tournaments,” Mosley said. “I think for the majority of the year on weekends, we have tournaments going on through Troup County. People stay and spend money here in LaGrange, but again, our money will be subcategorized.”
According to Visit LaGrange Board Chairman Bobby Carmichael, Visit LaGrange Inc. has already approved its side of the agreement, and it is excited to work with the county.
“We welcome the county to using Visit LaGrange as their DMO for the hotel/motel tax that they collect, and we will work with them to make sure it is spent the way they want it spent,” Carmichael said.
The county will pay a fee of $100 a month to Visit LaGrange for the fund management. To learn more about Visit LaGrange, visit Visitlagrange.com.