As a tax-paying Airbnb host in Ruckersville, I’d like to offer three reasons for supporting the “Taylor House” as the new site for the Greene County Visitor Center.
First, tourism is on the upswing in Greene County. This is a good thing. Tourists are low-impact people who spend money here. Lodging is expected to generate $5.6 million in tax receipts this fiscal year, according to our county administrator. Actually, I have a feeling Greene is about to get a lot more Airbnb tax income. Why? Because on June 20, Airbnb notified me that it will begin automatically collecting 5% for taxes from my bookings. It will then combine my taxes with those collected for all other Airbnb rentals in Greene. Airbnb will provide one combined tax payment to the county each month. This will not change my financial situation. I have always declared my Airbnb income to Greene and paid my 5% in taxes. But now nobody can dodge paying their full share of taxes for Airbnb rentals. Greene is likely to be a winner under this new system.
Second, I would love to be able to guide my guests to a visitor center that truly represents the best that Greene has to offer. This county is much more beautiful, much more historic, than what people see when they drive along the mishmash of buildings on U.S. Route 29. The Taylor House is one of the few remaining buildings along U.S. 29 that embodies the traditional, rural flavor of Greene. I’ve long hoped that this house would not be torn down. Now the county has found a way to both preserve the house and to put it to excellent use. I can envision visitors actually spending some time in and around this house and its two vintage outbuildings. With ample space for parking amid the greenery, visitors might have picnics, walk their dogs, let their children roam around the grounds and browse through displays of local crafts and arts. In the barn-type structure, I could even see bluegrass performances, maybe as a fundraiser for one of our fire departments or another good cause. In short, it could be a drawing card, a reason for passersby to stop and get to know Greene better, plus a gathering place for county residents too.
Third, Virginia’s State Code requires that 3% of my “Transient Occupancy Tax” dollars be re-invested into tourism (my other 2% goes to whatever else the county wishes). I cannot think of a better use of my 3% than acquiring the Taylor House for tourism purposes. I am aware that other locations have been suggested in public forums and letters to the editor, but none of the alternatives would satisfy the need for excellent road visibility, ample parking space with easy access, lovely grounds that visitors could enjoy in good weather and a historic building that would say Greene values its rural, agricultural, mountain-influenced heritage.
Bonnie Price Lofton