During its April meeting, the Knox County Fiscal Court approved the first reading of an ordinance establishing a new tourism board for the county.
The “Knox County Tourism and Convention Commission” was presented by Judge-Executive Mike Mitchell during the Wednesday, April 22 meeting (this meeting can be found on The Mountain Advocate’s Facebook page and website).
The commission would establish a three-percent transit tax for tourism and people passing through Knox County, and will have no impact on local taxes, said Mitchell. When asked if local citizens would be required to pay the tax, at a hotel for example, Mitchell said no, Knox County citizens would be exempted from the three-percent tax. Language clarifying the tax would be added to the ordinance for its second reading in May.
The new tourism commission would enable the county to apply for grants to promote tourism in the county, specifically along the “25 corridor,” stretching across the county.
The Barbourville Tourist Commission already exists as part of the government of the City of Barbourville, and is known for promoting past events, such as the BBQ festival, Christmas in Barbourville and a host of other activities throughout the year. When asked what advantage the county would have in establishing its own commission apart from the city, Mitchell said, “I think it’s going to be advantageous to both. We’ve got several opportunities that lie ahead.”
“The City has a very good tourism board,” Mitchell continued. “They’re very active, and I think going forward, this will enable the county to apply for (more) grant funding.”
Mitchell sited the new Appalachian Wildlife Center under construction in Bell County as one reason the county should move forward with this initiative now.
“We’ve got the Wildlife Center that’s located about 20 miles from us practically, and the amount of investment that’s going to give and the way state tourism is putting money out there, as well as the federal government, to promote tourism in the our area where we’ve had the decline in the coal economy… I don’t think we had a choice but to do this,” Mitchell said. “Going forward, I think it will work out good.”
The second reading of the ordinance will be held during the May fiscal court meeting. Because of social distancing guidelines due to the COVID-19 pandemic, meetings are closed to members of the public, but the meetings are live-streamed on The Mountain Advocate’s Facebook. Mitchell encourages anyone with questions for the court to reach out to his office before the meetings begin so any concerns can be addressed during the meeting.
In other actions, the court approved:
- A motion to approve the County Attorney’s Delinquent Tax report for March 2020, which reported $11,694.31;
- A motion to approve a poll vote that was taken among fiscal court members on Friday, April 24, to allow the Judge-Executive to enter into an option to lease large trucks;
- A motion to approve an ordinance to adopt a 911 Service Board, authorizing the Judge-Executive to enter into agreements with the Kentucky 911 Service Board;
- A motion to approve a “Shelter Ordinance,” a set of guidelines for shelter operations in case of the need for emergency shelter, cold weather shelter, and emergency management planning;
- A motion to accept bids to purchase and/or lease tractor boom mowers, replacing equipment that is 16 years old. One mower would be purchased with grant money, and another potentially with the sale of surplus equipment.
The next meeting of the Knox County Fiscal Court will be on Wednesday, May 27, 2020 at 2:30 p.m.