At its work session Monday, City Council heard presentations regarding new developments from the Tourism Council and the local effects of recent bills passed through the General Assembly.
New Williamsburg Tourism Council CEO Victoria Cimino reviewed the work she’s done since joining the tourism-focused branch of the Chamber and Tourism Alliance in April, and her plans for the group going forward.
She began by explaining how she’s led an internal audit of her staff and met with Tourism Council members and stakeholders, and will soon go on to issue requests for proposals for the group’s planned marketing, public relations and consulting work. She also plans to work with a consultant to begin developing a strategic plan for the Tourism Council along with a contracted consultant, which will serve as a long-term road map for its goals over the next several years.
“That will really provide a three- to five-year roadmap and hard goals for us to judge what we’re doing against,” she said.
She hopes to study the effectiveness of advertisements marketing overnight tourism to Williamsburg in order to have a better sense of the ratio of dollars spent in marketing versus the amount of dollars in tax revenue brought back to the area.
“I think that you’ll find that my approach is rooted in data and research, and that at the end of the day, the numbers don’t lie, so that will be my focus, those metrics and staying true to our business goals,” she said.
Also at the meeting, City Attorney Christina Shelton briefed the board on the local effects of 21 House and Senate bills that were passed in the General Assembly’s 2019 regular session covering topics including taxation, zoning, social services and more.
Notable bills included Senate Bill 1425, which affects how food trucks are taxed in the state. As Shelton explained, the law requires that a newly established food truck only pay license taxes in the jurisdiction that the truck is registered in for its first two years in operation, beginning from the date of the first license tax payment.
“If you live in James City County and you bought a food truck, and you operate that food truck out of James City County, you pay BPOL (business, professional and occupational license tax) in James City County,” Shelton said. “The exemption applies for two years after you start your business and after those two years, you pay BPOL everywhere you operate the business.”
Shelton said the city’s food truck zoning ordinance will need to be amended to reflect the new law.
Shelton also explained the forthcoming effects of House Bill 2752, which dictates that motorized scooters and skateboards will be allowed on sidewalks as of Jan. 1, 2020, unless an ordinance is adopted to ban them.
Motorized scooters and skateboards are defined as scooters or skateboards with an electric motor with a maximum speed of 20 miles per hour or less and weighing less than 100 pounds, Shelton said. The bill also allows localities to implement a pilot program by Jan. 1, 2020, for shared-use motorized skateboards and scooters.
“Staff is working on that and we’ll have something ready for council in the next several months,” she said.
“This strikes me as something that could have a pretty significant impact,” Mayor Paul Freiling said in response.
After being asked about the city’s next steps regarding the new law, City Manager Andrew Trivette said the city’s staff will refer to policies that other cities across the state and the country have adopted regarding shared-use motorized scooter programs.
“There’s a wealth of communities all over the country that have done this on a much larger scale, and we will have the opportunity to pick the best pieces of all of them to try to make an ordinance work,” Trivette said.
City Council will next meet on Thursday, where the board will consider a request to rezone the Econo Lodge at 216 Parkway Drive for conversion into an affordable apartment complex called Parkway Landing.
Want to go?
Where: City Council Chambers, Stryker Center, 412 N. Boundary St.
When: 2 p.m. Thursdady
Arriaza can be reached at 757-790-9313 or on Twitter @rodrigoarriaza0.