Davidson, Huntersville: Let towns decide agency's funding

Elected officials in Davidson and Huntersville will urge the General Assembly in Raleigh to let north Mecklenburg's three towns continue deciding how to fund Visit Lake Norman, a nonprofit organization that attracts events to the region.

The Davidson and Huntersville boards of commissioners voted unanimously last week to oppose House Bill 508, which mandates how much Davidson, Huntersville and Cornelius should give the organization.

State Rep. Beverly Earle, D-Charlotte, introduced the bill that passed the House on second and third readings June 9. She said the bill directs the towns to commit a combined 51 percent of their prepared-food and hotel-motel occupancy tax revenues to Visit Lake Norman.

That amount is less than the combined 53 percent of the two taxes the towns now give Visit Lake Norman, Earle told the Observer. The towns give the organization 28 percent of their hotel-occupancy tax revenues and 25 percent of their prepared-food tax receipts.

Earle said the hotel industry requested the legislation to make sure a future town board doesn't give Visit Lake Norman less money. The measure also has to pass the Senate to become law.

In a resolution passed by a 5-0 vote, the Davidson Board of Commissioners said House Bill 508 "would strip Cornelius, Davidson and Huntersville of the authority entrusted to the towns to effectively and appropriately allocate our taxpayer revenue.

"The three North Mecklenburg towns can reach an effective agreement and a suitable funding level with Visit Lake Norman without a legislative mandate," the resolution says.

Since 2006, the resolution says, the towns have funded Visit Lake Norman at those 28-percent and 25-percent tax receipt levels "and are prepared to continue that level of funding."

Davidson's resolution urges General Assembly members to vote "no" in committee and, if necessary, on the floor of the General Assembly against passing the bill.

Both resolutions say the towns continue to work in good faith on a new agreement with Visit Lake Norman, as the current funding agreement is set to expire.

Huntersville commissioner Charles Jeter said the towns are working on a minimum five-year agreement with Visit Lake Norman, longer than when the House bill would expire.

Visit Lake Norman operates on a $448,415 budget. Huntersville contributed $267,296, Cornelius $132,929 and Davidson $47,920.

Huntersville commissioners also voted to ask the Visit Lake Norman board be reconfigured for greater transparency, by allowing the town boards to appoint more of its members.