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Pickett Commission Passes $95K Tourism Budget

The Pickett County Commission passed the Tourism Committee’s budget Monday night even with some members expressing concern over how the budget can be spent.

The proposed $95,000 budget is funded from the county’s occupancy tax. Pickett County Executive Stephen Bilbrey said the occupancy tax brought in around $100,000 last year. Commissioner and Committee Member Deborah Garrett said she thinks the budget should be presented to the board with a breakdown of where specifically money will be spent outside of broad categories.

“I think if they’re presenting a letter asking for X amount of dollars that they’re going to tell us what revenues they’re having and what expenses they’re expecting,” Garrett said.

Bilbrey said he would still bring in those clear guidelines to the commission after the Tourism Committee’s next meeting. He said the guidelines would more clearly breakdown revenue and costs.

“This is for 2024,” Bilbrey said. “I mean there’s nothing we got going on in January and February for us to spend any money, so it’s going to be there. Hopefully, we have the guidelines in place you know before our next tourism meeting in February.”

Commissioner Tony Beaty questioned spending $15,000 on a fishing tournament.

“That tournament there is Major League Fishing (MLF),” Bilbrey said. “It’s going to be on TV. You see it on Saturday mornings. It’s going to be a five-day fishing event. First time Dale Hollow has ever been considered.”

Bilbrey said the event would have cost the county $60,000. He said the state worked out a deal with MLW to lower the cost to $40,000 and paid for $25,000. Bilbrey said while he believes the number is inflated, MLW told him the event could bring $1 million in revenue.

“For $15,000, I mean you’re going to be on TV,” Bilbrey said. “Dale Hollow Lake is going to be on TV. You can’t buy advertising for $15,000. People follow this Major League Fishing and come in and watch the weigh-ins and stuff like they follow NASCAR. Maybe not as big as NASCAR.”

In other business, the commission approved a rate increase for the ambulance service to match the allowed rate set by Medicare.

The Commission also approved the county to apply for a THDA Home Grant program. This is the second time Pickett County has applied for the grant. They were denied last year. The grant would give the county up to $750,000 to rehabilitate low-income homes.

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