Sylva downtown group to hire executive director

Downtown Sylva Association members have voted unanimously to hire an executive director, setting the organization up to more actively advocate for the downtown community.


“We need to get somebody good,” said board member Joan MacNeill.

Board members last week approved a motion to hire a part-time director with a salary range of up to $20,000 per year and specific hours to be determined by a hiring committee. The average salary range for part time directors is between $9,500 and $36,000, DSA President Sheryl Rudd told the board.

A suggested goal was to have an executive director in place in time to participate in the DSA’s annual Greening Up the Mountains festival in April. The festival is the organization’s largest undertaking.

Funding the position will take about a third of the DSA’s current budget. The organization’s budget was sharply reduced when the Town of Sylva pulled the majority of its annual $20,000 contribution. Town board members voted 3-2 to reduce funding to the DSA to $2,000. Board members Danny Allen, Harold Hensley and Ray Lewis voted for the decrease, members Stacy Knots and Maurice Moody against. Moody is on the DSA board.

The organization is in the process of soliciting support for the creation of a municipal service district — a special taxing district that would generate funds for downtown improvements. The district would encompass the downtown area generally from the historic courthouse to the intersection of N.C. 107 and Business 23, and from the neighborhood near the Methodist Church downtown to Jackson Plaza. Businesses within the district would pay an extra tax of 20 cents per $100 property value, which would raise an estimated $50,000 for the DSA, Rudd said.

The DSA had planned to survey all downtown Sylva property and business owners before Christmas and present its findings to town board members in January. However, more time was needed, in part due to misinformation circulating about the tax. Some have been confused, thinking that the tax would be levied by the Town of Sylva for town services. The DSA has planned a series of meetings targeted toward merchants and building owners who have questions such as what the MSD is and how it will affect them. The goal is have an informal discussion about the MSD.

The MSD informational meetings will be held at the Jackson County Main Library in Sylva on three dates: noon to 1 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 18, 6 to 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 22 and 10 to 11 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 24.

Town board members have been hesitant to enact the tax unless a majority of those who would be paying it express support. DSA board members say that in general the response has been positive. They plan to draw up a report for town officials that will indicate both the percentage of property owners who support the MSD and the percentage of property owned by those who support the MSD.

If the town board voted to enact the MSD, funds would not be made available to the DSA until July 2008, Rudd said. The goal is for the DSA to make its presentation to town officials Feb. 15.

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