County Proposal Would Group Advertising Dollars

SNOW HILL — Though a lucrative restructuring of tourism funds could mean up to $60,000 in new grants for Worcester County, at least one County Commissioner is afraid the move would mean excessive interference with towns and municipalities if it comes to pass.

“We’re not in the business of micromanaging,” said Commissioner Louise Gulyas during a budget work session Tuesday.

Gulyas’ reaction came in response to a proposal by Tourism Director Lisa Challenger to group together all of the money usually distributed to municipalities for advertising into a single fund, which due to its size, would better be able to leverage grants for Worcester.

“This is sort of a creative proposal to get the county an additional $60,000,” Challenger told the commission.

Challenger explained that instead of writing municipalities a check and stepping back, her department would retain all of the funding to use as grant leverage. However, she promised that individual towns would still have total control over how the money allotted to them is used.

“We’d just be having it pass through our department so we would be spending it,” said Challenger. “We would spend that money exactly how they want it spent.”

Gulyas, however, remained unconvinced that towns would have the same level of control on how they spend advertising funds.

“You would control that money,” she told Challenger.

Gulyas asserted that her reservations in no way reflected on the level of trust she had in Challenger or her department. However, she reminded the commission that she had fought hard several years ago to give municipalities the freedom to do their own advertising.

Commissioner Virgil Shockley pointed out that Challenger’s department would still be spending the money on the projects towns requested. They would simply be holding onto it to inflate their grant appeal.

“What’s the difference?” he asked Gulyas.
Challenger’s proposal also received support from Commissioner Judy Boggs.
“It sounds like better coordination to me,” she said.

Gulyas remained adamant in her opposition. However, the issue won’t be decided until later when the commission officially votes on the county budget.