TDA board approves $2K for hiker shuttle


Dan Finnerty

Staff Writer

Following Chair Connie Grubermann’s call to order, the Franklin Tourism Development Authority (TDA) began its initial monthly meeting of the new year on Monday, Jan. 9. With seven members participating, the first of two funding applications were discussed for consideration and approval.

The Franklin Appalachian Trail (A.T.) Community Council submitted an application for funding in support of the 2023 Franklin A.T. Celebration. The month-long event takes place from March 20 through April 22 this spring. While 2022’s request was $830, this year’s was for $2,420. The largest projected increases were for website and domain upgrades as well as print media.

Macon County Transit’s (MCT) application was to request assistance with the Hiker Route, which entails transporting thru-hikers from Rock Gap and Winding Stairs Gap, into Franklin and back again. The service is scheduled to begin in March and run three times a day, Monday-Friday, ending May 26. MCT’s 2023 request was for $4,870, mainly due to a 75% increase in ridership on the shuttle and fixed route service during the peak season. After consideration, the board approved $2,000, which is the same amount allocated for 2022.

Lastly, ex officio member town manager Amie Owens delivered a financial report that included a 13-year, month-to-month comparison of occupancy tax collections. Revenue for October 2022 was the highest on record, coming in at $24,684.90. In 2019, revenues during the same period totalled $19,422.94. Predictably, 2020 saw an almost $3,000 decrease at $16,212.69. October revenues were back up in 2021 at $18,302.14.

The next TDA meeting is scheduled for Monday, Feb. 13, at 5:30 p.m. in the Town Hall Board Room.