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Wednesday, 17 May 2017 16:31

Morality is relative; ignorance is not

Written by 

To the Editor:

This is a response to the letter written by Colton Bailey titled, “Festival is Immoral,” that was published in last week’s edition of The Smoky Mountain News. If you believe the consumption of alcohol is immoral, then you can skip this letter. There is nothing here that will change your mind. However, if your biscuits are burning because you believe that the Hook, Line, and Drinker festival is an “immoral ... use of (Jackson County) taxpayer dollars,” then I have some very good news for you. 

Mr. Bailey’s assertion that this upcoming weekend’s Hook, Line, and Drinker festival is funded by “Jackson County taxpayers” is incorrect. What Mr. Bailey did not disclose, presumably because he is unaware of functions of local government, is the fact that not one red cent of Jackson County real estate tax, personal property tax, sales taxes or any tax, county or otherwise, were used to fund any part of the Hook, Line, and Drinker festival. 

Well, who is paying for this soiree? Short answer: probably not you.

Jackson County levies an occupancy tax on overnight hotel, motel and resort guests. This occupancy tax brings in almost $1 million/year. This tax is used to fund the Jackson County Tourism Development Authority, which allocates a portion of its budget for the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce.  

However, it is factually incorrect to say that any tax dollars were used to fund this festival, or any other chamber function, because those occupancy tax dollars are strictly for the chamber’s visitor center and its routine operating expenses. The chamber has not used any tax proceeds to support this upcoming festival or any other chamber event.

The upcoming festival, along with Concerts on the Creek and July 4th fireworks are funded through advertising sales in the chamber’s relocation guide, chamber memberships and business sponsorship. No taxpayer dollars are being used.  

So, are “your” tax dollars going to fund The Hook, Line, and Drinker festival?  N-O-P-E.

If you have enjoyed any of the more than 150 concerts that have been held at Bridge Park over the last seven years, you can thank the chamber of commerce and its business partners. If you’ve enjoyed the fireworks and bands at the July 4th celebration, you can once again thank the chamber and its partners. Julie Spiro’s and Kelly Donaldson’s work at the chamber of commerce nurtures economic growth and facilitates community engagement on behalf of its members. This is the chamber’s only agenda and to suggest otherwise is simple ignorance.

Patrick Dowling


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