It's official — Boyd County withdrew from a long-standing tourism alliance Monday with the intention of promoting more events and tourism resources in the county.
The Boyd Fiscal Court unanimously approved the breakup of the alliance upon second reading. Fiscal Court members said afterward they believe the move is in the best interests of county residents over the long haul.
"We have bike trails, we have jogging trails throughout the county that have never been promoted," said Boyd Fiscal Court Commissioner Randy Stapleton. "We have Rush Off Road and it's not promoted other than what the owner has done. It needs to be promoted."
Until Monday Boyd County and the city of Ashland were partners in the Ashland/Boyd County Tourism & Convention Bureau. The operation is funded by a 3 percent transient tax on area hotel/motels in the city and county. In the last fiscal year the tax brought in $66,945 from city hotels/motels and $217,257.49 from county properties. County officials said they now plan to create their own tourism board and likely appoint a director in the county with their portion of the revenues.
Boyd leaders stressed that they want to work with Ashland tourism leaders despite the split.
"I really want to emphasize that Ashland and Boyd County continue to work together," said Boyd Commissioner Larry Brown.
Commissioner Keith Watts also said he believes Ashland and Boyd can work together in the future on tourism.
"It is something I believe we needed to try and do," Watts said. "We reached out to several other counties to see how they do a lot of things and there are a lot of dual tourism boards out there...And, they all still work together. I just think with us pulling the most amount of money in on the taxes we just really need to see where we can go (with this)."
Ashland Mayor Steve Gilmore has said he thinks the split is not a wise idea. He said the Ashland tourism operation will continue to move forward with a lot less resources although the Ashland operation will keep its building on Winchester Avenue - a structure that is paid for. He expects a new board to be appointed to the Ashland tourism board soon.
"We will set a good board and get down to making things happen with less money," Gilmore said. "I wish them (the county) the best with developing it. I'm sure their intentions are right. I don't think it is the right thing for the citizens of Boyd County. They are duplicating services."
Ashland/Boyd County Tourism & Convention Bureau Director Sue Dowdy said Monday afternoon "I think we all need to move forward and do what's best for Ashland and Boyd County."