First, let me be clear that I am 100% for funding trained EMTs. This is my personal opinion and not that of any group.
I have been involved with the Hotel/Motel tax and laws since the very beginning in the 1980s. I have served on many boards who receive funding through H/M tax as well as the West Virginia Hospitality and Travel Association and West Virginia Association of Fairs and Festivals.
Tourism promotion has greatly increased the quality of life and is a strong economic driver in Pocahontas County. Our fairs and festivals are run by small groups of volunteers who spend much time and our own money. Volunteers will donate prize money but they do not pay for event insurance, Porta Pots, taxes and fees. All of our fairs and festivals are street fairs open to everyone with no way to collect admissions. Our local charitable groups, schools etc. fund their activities through these events. It is difficult to track the actual amount of dollars circulated through these events.
The Pocahontas County Landmarks Commission is also a volunteer board with the responsibility to maintain the Pocahontas County Opera House (a large economic driver), and the McGlaughlin Log Cabin as well as the Historic Landmarks. Continued maintenance requires this funding source, as well.
This issue should not be decided immediately and all volunteer efforts should be carefully considered. We do need to find a funding source for EMS but not at the expense of the cultural component that brings visitors to the county. Many users of the service are elderly and living on fixed income. This needs to be a consideration, as well. I would be happy to support a levy to cover these services although it could be a hardship for many of our elderly citizens.
Let’s not rush into this decision. Our tourism industry is functioning like a well-oiled machine, and we should not start using it as a cash cow.