The Grayson Tourism & Convention Commission received a financial report and audit from the firm of Kelly, Galloway, Smith, Goolsby, PSC, during their regular meeting last Thursday.

Auditor Lori Dearfield told the commission that, based on their audit, the firm found that the financial statements of the group "are fairly presented"; however, there were a few issues that she brought to the attention of the commission.

One of those issues was related to the restaurant tax. According to Dearfield, the commission should have amended their budget after the implementation of the restaurant tax to reflect that new revenue stream. Though the commission didn't do that, they did maintain those funds separately from their other funds.

Dearfield recommended the group amend their 2019 budget to show the restaurant tax. She explained that they could maintain it as a separate line item to avoid confusion and commingling of funds earmarked for specific purposes.

Another of Dearfield's recommendations was related to internal controls with reimbursements. For instance, she noted, when the commission reimbursed volunteers for gas and other items used at the county fair, they wrote those checks out to cash. Dearfield recommended that the commission either write those checks out to each individual being reimbursed or write a single check out to one individual. That single individual could then collect receipts and hand out cash reimbursements.

Dearfield concluded by noting that she had "no difficulties in performing the audit, and (had) nothing else to add at this time."

The commission also took action on sewer line repairs for the tourism cabin and the gallery building next door. The old lines, they explained, have collapsed somewhere between Carol Malone and Route 60. The result was that sewage was backing up in the Grayson Gallery & Art Center building.

Because the tourism cabin is sitting at a higher elevation, that building has not experienced the same problems, commission president Mindy Woods-Click explained, but water usage there does cause the sewer to back up in the gallery building.

Woods-Click said the commission had two options. One was to see if they could find the collapsed section of pipe and make repairs there. This option would require extensive digging once the collapsed section of pipe was located. The other option was all new sewage lines installed with horizontal boring technology that wouldn't require as much digging.

The commission moved to go with the second option at a cost of $20,000. Half of the funds for the repairs will come from restaurant tax revenue, while the other half will come from the hotel tax.

In other action, the commission approved repairs to the electrical outlets and light switches in the tourism cabin, approved a request for a $250 grant from the Grayson Fire Department for a regional Easter egg hunt and a request for $1000 to expand their holiday light show display, approved a request from Memory Days for $1,000 to cover advertising expenses, approved a request for $500 for advertising for the Heart of the Parks Tennis Classic, approved $500 for the Carter Caves Half Marathon, and approved a partial grant request from Rudy Fest to cover advertising costs.

Rudy Fest had requested $5,000 for advertising needs, but the commission approved only $1,500 at this time; however, they stated they will look at finances to determine if they can add to that amount at a future meeting. Though the festival is currently being held across the county line in Rowan County at the Poppy Mountain venue, the commission noted that all the money raised through Rudy Fest does come back to Carter County to support local sports teams and other activities.

They also discussed problems with collection of the hotel tax and moved to check the city ordinance related to the tax, approved the financial report, and approved the audit report.

The next meeting of the Tourism Commission will be a special meeting, scheduled for March 12 at 5 p.m.

Contact the writer at jwells@journal-times.com.

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