MONCKS CORNER -- A month after a committee that decides who gets more than $50,000 in state tax money from hotels promised to make the process more transparent, a woman representing a group that wants some of it said she's having trouble getting answers.
Laurette Sweet of Pinopolis is hoping for some money to publicize a flower show at Cypress Gardens. She said she has evidence that the last Breath of Spring Flower Show drew people from outside the state, which would qualify for some of the hotel tax money for publicity.
She sent a letter Nov. 8 to Berkeley County Accommodations Tax Advisory Committee Chairman Oliver Buckles explaining her event and asking for an application. She said Monday that she had not received an application or an answer when she might get one.
"It's frustrating," she said. "You would think a person representing a nonprofit could go in and get an application."
Buckles said he got about six requests for applications after inviting groups to ask for them last month. He said he plans to send all the groups applications, and they will all be reviewed at a committee meeting in February.
"She will get her application," he said.
He couldn't say when that might be.
"I don't get paid for this," he said. "I'm a volunteer. If I was on salary and had a county desk, she might get her application sooner."
He said he was hoping the county would put up the application on its website so groups could get it there.
Chip Boling, the county's public information officer, said he had not heard that the tax committee wanted its application posted on the website.
Sweet said she is willing to wait for her application, but has been frustrated by the lack of communication.
"It's almost like they're saying, 'We've been doing it this way for years and just don't bother us,' " she said.
The committee came up with the application process last month after some criticism from the public and several council members that the committee was not doing enough to invite groups other than the Chamber of Commerce to apply for the money. The committee makes recommendations for council approval.
Last year, the pot was about $54,000. The money comes from a 2 percent state tax on hotels in unincorporated areas. Municipalities get the money from hotels in their boundaries.
Buckles said he is happy to invite other groups to apply, but they should be aware that the state requires the money to be used to draw tourists to stay in hotel rooms.
The only group besides the Chamber of Commerce to get some of the money last year was the Hell Hole Swamp Festival, which reveived $500.
Reach Dave Munday at 937-5553.