This video is about 33 minutes long.
St. Michaels commissioners will hold a budget work session this afternoon, as the town grapples with two major issues — marketing and trash.
A suggestion to drastically cut the amount of money the town spends on marketing has drawn heated opposition from business owners and tourist attractions.
The debate also has led to two commissioners publicly apologizing to two local business owners for suggesting they had supported the cuts to the town’s marketing budget.
The money for marketing and advertising comes from two revenue sources — the accommodations tax and the amusement and admissions tax.
The accommodations tax is paid by guests staying at hotels, B&Bs, inns, and short-term rentals. The money is collected by the lodging industry and then paid to the county.
Talbot County keeps up to 5% for administrative expenses, then sends the tax revenue to the towns in which the tax was collected.
Any accommodations tax paid for lodging that is outside the incorporated towns is kept by the county, which has dedicated its use for economic development and tourism. However, the county law allows towns to use accommodations tax revenue to “alleviate costs related to tourism.”
The amusement and admissions tax is “imposed on the gross receipts from admissions, the use or rental of recreational or sports equipment and the sale of merchandise, refreshments or services at a nightclub or similar place where entertainment is provided,” according to the state comptroller’s office.
St. Michaels typically has used about 75% of the revenue from those two taxes to pay for town services related to tourism, including trash pickup and police. The town has used the remaining 25% for advertising and marketing.
During an April 16 budget session, Commissioner Tad DuPont, the town’s treasurer, suggested the proposed marketing budget for Fiscal Year 2022 be cut from $140,000 to $40,000.
Several business owners spoke against any cut during the town’s April 27 meeting, noting advertising is responsible for making the town and its attractions so well known.
In addition to the marketing budget, commissioners also are awaiting information on whether it would be more cost effective to out-source trash collection to a private firm.
During the April 27 meeting, Donna Hunt, a former town commissioner, said that issue had been extensively studied in the past and the town determined costs would be lower and services would be better if town crews collected trash.
Hunt noted that a private firm likely would pick up trash later in the day, meaning trash containers would remain on the streets and sidewalks all day until residents returned home from work and were able to put the containers away.
Today’s virtual budget work session is set to begin at 5 p.m. For information on how to view and/or listen to the meeting by computer or phone, click here.