Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Memphis Pets of the Week (Aug. 30-Sept. 5)

Posted By on Wed, Aug 29, 2018 at 3:15 PM

Each week, the Flyer will feature adoptable dogs and cats from Memphis Animal Services. All photos are credited to Memphis Pets Alive. More pictures can be found on the Memphis Pets Alive Facebook page.

Tennessee Tourism Breaks Record (Again)

Posted By on Wed, Aug 29, 2018 at 2:31 PM

Beale Street
  • Beale Street

Tourism broke records in Tennessee last year and spending in Memphis topped totals from the previous two years.

Tourism spending in the Volunteer State reached a record high of $20.7 billion in 2017. That figure grew 6.3 percent from 2016, according to state tourism officials and the U.S. Travel Association.

Tourism spending in Memphis and Shelby County last year grew 5 percent from 2016. The 11.7 million people who visited here last year spent more than $3.5 billion, according to Memphis Tourism. The group says the data suggests that people are staying longer and spending more money on their trips here.

Memphis Tourism, formerly the Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau, markets Memphis to visitors across the U.S. and the world. Their pitch is focused on ”a dynamic culinary scene rooted in BBQ, along with the sounds of a rich music legacy and a new Memphis beat,” according to a news release.

Increased spending in tourism here meant more jobs. Tourism payroll in Memphis and Shelby County last year was $742 million, up $41 million from 2016, according to Memphis Tourism.

“Tourism is economic development, plain and simple,” said Kevin Kane, president and CEO of Memphis Tourism. “Our industry creates and sustains jobs. While the 5 percent year-over-year growth in visitor spending is a very positive sign, we are equally encouraged by the increase in employment numbers along with the growing local payroll for our industry.”

Across Tennessee, tourism created 184,300 jobs last year, according to state data; the growth in job numbers this year was 3.1 percent higher than in 2016.

Last year was the 12th consecutive year that tourism drew more than $1 billion into the coffers of state and local governments.

State tourism officials said they sell Tennessee to visitors on its authenticity, Southern hospitality, food, history, and outdoor vistas and experiences.


In a related note, Airbnb announced this week that in its first year of a tax agreement with the city, Memphis hosts have remitted $647,000 in home-sharing tax revenue to city coffers.

Airbnb hosts pay a 3.5 percent short-term room occupancy tax and a $2-per-night assessment for the Tourism Improvement District.

Memphis' agreement with Airbnb was the first of its kind in Tennessee, according to the company. That agreement started a trend, which spread to similar agreements for Knoxville, Chattanooga, and a deal for tax collection through the Tennessee Department of Revenue.

From May 2016 to May 2017, 87,000 have stayed in Memphis Airbnbs. That's 67 percent more than in 2016.

That Blimp? It's a Carnival Cruise Promo

Posted By on Wed, Aug 29, 2018 at 11:29 AM

A blimp was drifting through the skies over Downtown Memphis Wednesday and while, yes, it's a promotion for Carnival Cruise Lines, it's also raising money for St. Jude Children's Hospital.

The Carnival AirShip made its debut for the company here in Memphis Wednesday. It'll travel all over the Southeast for a new promo. You can read all about that (if you're interested) in a story at the Sea Trade Cruise News.

That story says posts to Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter with the hashtag #ChooseFun will trigger a "donation to St. Jude, Carnival’s longtime charitable partner."

Many have already done just that this morning:

Here's a terrible photo I took:


And here's a kinda fun, kinda-hard-to-see time-lapse of the blimp moving around the riverfront:

City Council Looks to Implement Transportation Utility Fee

Posted By on Wed, Aug 29, 2018 at 9:57 AM


The Memphis City Council is looking to implement a transportation utility fee to fund roadway and transit projects.

Councilman Edmund Ford Jr. said the fee would be used to fund roadway improvement projects, such repairing curb and gutters, as well as support the Memphis Area Transit Authority (MATA)’s new transit plan.

“I think it’s time for us to look at ways that we can garner enough funds that we don’t rely so much on property taxes,” Ford said. “I know we’re not in the phase of putting the ordinance together, but I think the discussion is important if we’re serious about funding MATA, as well as making sure public works has what it needs.”

The fee would be tacked on to Memphis Light, Gas and Water bills and would be similar to the stormwater fee, Wayne Gaskin, former city of Memphis engineer told the council. The residential and non-residential rates would be based on the amount of trips a property generates and could range from $4.75 to $15. Gaskin said the fee could generate more than $30 million in revenue each year.

This revenue will be used to offset the costs of road projects and create a dedicated source of funding for MATA, Ford said.

Last month, Robert Knecht, director of Public Works, told the council that the city doesn’t have dedicated funding for street improvement projects, such as fixing sidewalks. With more funding, other improvements such as switching to LED traffic signals could take place. To implement all of the roadway improvements currently needed citywide, Knecht said it would cost $60 to $80 million.

To upkeep sidewalks only, it would cost an additional $19 million a year.

The city is currently on an approximate 25-year street paving cycle, Knecht said. This means on average all 8,816 lane miles of street will get re-surfaced at least once every 25 years. Knecht proposes a 20-year cycle, which would cost another $8 million a year. A 10-year cycle hikes the cost up by another $50 million.

Ford plans to draft a resolution for the transportation fee and present it to the council in two weeks.

“I think it’s a true example of finding a way to be creative, while making sure that people are paying their fair share,” Ford said. “About 310,000 cars come through the city of Memphis every single day.”

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