New Tourism Program Could Affect Savannah Businesses

Date: May 16, 2017

A program that has long been proposed could soon impact businesses in Savannah.

The program is called Savannah Serves, also previously known as the Ambassadors Program when it was initially proposed a few years ago. Under this proposal, a Visitor Impact Special Service District Ordinance would be implemented to create the district itself, and a Revenue Ordinance would be implemented to levy a new fee.

The Visitor Impact Special Service District would include all businesses located:

  • South of the Savannah River
  • West of East Broad Street
  • East of MLK Boulevard
  • North of Jones Street
  • East of Whitaker Street
  • North of Park Avenue
  • West of Drayton Street

Within this district, businesses would collect a 25-cent fee on every transaction over $10, except for the purchase of gasoline, groceries, or prescription medications. Businesses collecting the fee would submit the revenue to the City Revenue Department, but keep 3 percent for administration costs, provided that receipts are provided by the monthly due date.

Revenue generated by this fee—estimated projections are around $2.5 million—would pay for 12 ambassadors, 2 police sergeants, and 12 officers to patrol the area, as well as parks beautification staff. The goal is enhanced public safety, increased beautification, better litter control, and improved visitor experience. The ambassador program, which has been in effect since last year, has been funded with money from parking fees.

At this writing, public meetings were being scheduled, but the proposed effective date would be July 1.



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