We bring in the money is the message Gloria Ray, President and CEO of the Knoxville Tourism and Sports Corporation (KTSC) had for the Knox County Commission on Monday afternoon.
Commission Chairman Mike Hammond invited Ray to speak at the Chairman's Luncheon before the regular meeting to explain KTSC's role and economic impact in the greater Knoxville area. The invitation comes on the heels of a story 10News first reported last month that Ray is compensated more than $400,000 for leading the organization. The board's executive committee approves Ray's pay.
Ray presented the same information a second time at Commission's regular meeting. The lunch meeting ran out of time for the Commissioners to ask Ray questions, and Commission wanted as many people as possible to be able to hear what Ray had to say.
Ray showed numbers that indicate the city and county hotel-motel tax has increased since KTSC was formed in 2002. A majority of KTSC's budget comes from that tax fund. 10News has previously reported that some Knox County officials dispute the increase is solely because of KTSC because the numbers are hard to track. There are a number of other large groups and organizations in the Knoxville area that also use hotels and motels for visitors.
Other information Ray presented included numbers from the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development that compare the economic impact of Knox and Hamilton Counties, where Chattanooga is located. Between 2002-2010 visitors spent $717,233,000 in Knox County compared to $672,480,000 in Hamilton County. During the same time period, Knox County collected $17,292,000 in local tax receipts from travel compared to $14,903,000 in Hamilton County.
Ray told Commission that KTSC's goal on Monday was to get the focus off of her salary and on to the results they are bringing to Knoxville.
Several Commissioners said Monday, including Commissioner Hammond, that they support KTSC and the work it does to market and promote the area. But, Commissioner Hammond said he is still encouraging KTSC's board to take a hard look at their spending, specifically Ray's salary.