Floyd Mayor: FloydFest uproar is much ado about nothing of substance
A lengthy discussion of FloydFest at the regular meeting of Floyd Town Council Thursday night but — unlike the tone of the discussion at the county Board of Supervisors two days earlier — most of the comments were supportive of the 12-year-old festival that bears the town’s name and, according to Mayor Will Griffin, brings in a lot of money and attention to both the town and county.
Griffin also says the question of sales taxes on ticket sales is a non-issue because sales tax is not charged on tickets in Virginia.
“I’ve looked into that and it is not an issue that applies to this situation,” he said Friday.
A check of existing laws by Blue Ridge Muse shows Griffin — an accountant by profession — is correct. In 2008, the Virginia Department of Taxation, in clarifying the question of sales taxes on tickets to entertainment events, issued order 08-11, which said:
The tax does not apply to sales of tickets, fees, charges, or voluntary contributions for admissions to places of amusement, entertainment, exhibition, display, or athletic contests, nor to charges made for participation in games or amusement activities.
Town council member Mike Patton, at the meeting, wondered if the issue has more to do with the tug of war between the county board and the school board than any real issues involving whether or not FloydFest is actually a Floyd event, a charge sometimes leveled at the event because it is held on a farm just across the line in Patrick County along with recent claims that the company that controls the event is registered at a Montgomery County address.
Griffin also said a observation at the town council suggested that if the emergency had involved the Galax Old Time Fiddler’s Convention there would have been no questions raised about using Floyd County resources to jump in and help.
Griffin said he feels the failure of Across the Way Productions, the partnership of FloydFest founders Kris Hodges and Erika Johnson, to obtain a business license in the town of Floyd for the last two years was “an oversight, nothing more.”
“The bottom line is that FloydFest brings a lot of national attention and revenue to our town,” Griffin said. “It’s an asset to the area.”
The mayor pointed out that many Floyd businesses reported large increases in business during FloydFest. That feeling is echoed by several business owners, including Oddfellas Cantina co-owner Kerry Underwood, Floyd Express Mart owner Roger Hollandsworth and a corporate spokesman for Food Lion.
Griffin added that the Republic of Floyd had its best weekend since reopening. Others reported a significant increase in business.
Parking and weather-related problems of this year’s FloydFest have dominated public and private discussions in the county over the last couple of weeks and the county board of supervisors is demanding a meeting with festival officials and documentation on revenue produced for the county and donations to charities. The supervisors are also considering charging the festival a fee for each customer car parked on school and commerce center lots when the rain and mud forced closure of the lots near the event.
But more than one reader has asked that if the supervisors ctually have a right to demand a list of charitable contributions from any individual or private company. Others want to know how the county can demand a parking fee after the festival made a deal with the school system for use of buses and drivers for transportation and promptly paid the bill, which resulted in a $9,000 profit to the school board. The controversy has made the school so system that, on Friday, when the town and officials of the Town Jubilee, asked about the possibility of using the school auditorium for a planned concert that faced bad weather on Saturday, the response was that “this is not a good time to ask.” The Jubilee decided to postpone the event.
And the beat goes on.
Long-time newspaperman, photographer and videographer who still shoots photos and covers government and courts for a newspaper, shoots video for TV and documentary use and owns web sites like Blue Ridge Muse, Capitol Hill Blue and American Newsreel.