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Tourism budget approved

The Troup County Board of Commissioners approved its tourism budget to be managed by Visit LaGrange in 2020.

The county’s total tourism budget for 2020 will be $40,000.

The commission did make a few tweaks to the budget from Thursday’s work session. Troup County Manager Eric Mosley said the contractual fee of $1,200 wasn’t included in the budget presented to commissioners in the work session.

The majority of the funds will still go to hiring freelance videographers at $15,000. There is also $2,500 set aside for photographers.

The county still plans to spend $5,000 on social advertisements and $5,000 on search engine marketing. Lastly, the plan is to spend $2,000 on search engine optimization. Those totals brought the county’s total marketing and advertising expenditures to $29,500.

The reduction in the budget to make room for the fee to Visit LaGrange came at the expense of printing materials. The county will now spend $4,300 on printing posters, brochures and billboards instead of the previously budgeted $5,500.

Also, the budget called for $5,000 to market conventions, expos or events.

The county’s tourism funds, which are generated by hotel/motel taxes, will be managed by Visit LaGrange for the first time in 2020.

The county ended its contract with the LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce in July, after the city of LaGrange ended a similar contract to form its own 501c6.

In the past, all of the tourism dollars from Troup County, LaGrange, West Point and Hogansville were in one pot, and the chamber of commerce spent the collective money on tourism. Now that Troup County’s tourism dollars are with Visit LaGrange, it has more freedom over how that money can be spent.

LaGrange is also sending its dollars to Visit LaGrange. West Point has discussed using the Greater Valley Area Chamber of Commerce in Valley, Alabama, to spend its tourism funds and Hogansville hasn’t decided how it will allocate those funds as of Tuesday.

Board Chairman Patrick Crews said the county typically brings in between $40,000 and $60,000 each year in hotel/motel tax. Tourism funds can only be used for tourism and promotion purposes. 

Also, on Tuesday, the commissioners approved Troup County Solicitor Sandra Taylor’s request to lift the hiring freeze to employ a legal secretary. The Troup County Solicitor’s Office is responsible for prosecuting all misdemeanors, traffic offenses and ordinance violations in the State Court of Troup County.

Taylor said the office files about 1,800 accusations a year, and many of those have multiple counts. Additionally, the office handles about 1,000 to 1,500 traffic citations each year. 

The board also halfway granted a request by Troup County Elections Supervisor Andrew Harper. At Thursday’s work session, Harper requested to promote two part-time employees to full time due to the increase of voters. The board approved the hiring of one full-time employee and the ability to hire another part-time employee. 

During the work session Thursday, Harper said when he took over the office in 2014, there were 34,460 registered voters in Troup County. Now, that number has increased to 43,324 and is steadily increasing, Harper said.