Pigeon Forge sees record 2013 tax receipts
Pigeon Forge set another record for tax receipts in 2013, Mayor David Wear said in his state of the city speech Thursday.
"Let me show you the gross receipts tax for last year," he said. "2013 was another record year with $937 million city-wide. That's up from a record of $905 million last year. We set a new mark for Pigeon Forge, and we continue to climb."
Wear spoke at LeConte Center during a meeting of the Pigeon Forge Hospitality Association. He discussed ways ways the city of Pigeon Forge will continue to invest in the future.
He mentioned the LeConte convention facility – at which, he said, 21 licensed events are scheduled for 2014, and 17 for 2015 – as an important investment.
"This is a wonderful facility," Wear said. "It's fulfilling its intended purpose. Its intended purpose is to bring large events here so they can have a beautiful place to meet and want to come back year after year."
One of the key strategies with the center, Wear said, is thinking outside the box, as with events hosted simultaneously at LeConte and at the Sevierville Convention Center.
Wear also discussed the city's new wastewater treatment plant, which, he said, will allow Pigeon Forge to grow. Construction has begun and should be done by 2016, he noted. He added that he is happy Pigeon Forge is one of the first cities to implement a re-use system to capture and reuse water.
The Jake Thomas Road Extension, which is set to open on March 1, will create new development possibilities, Wear said.
"It's a very important road, I think, for the future of Pigeon Forge and how we grow," he said. "It's a very expensive road."
Wear said he is excited for the Ripken Experience baseball complex, which is expected to be completed by July 2015. It will be ready to bid in June.
"We believe we can attract a demographic that we don't attract now," he said. "It's something that needs to be set up the right way, done right for future success."
With the 25th annual Winterfest slated for next winter, Wear said the city plans to invest more than ever in the events that take place during the cold season.
Wear acknowledged that the city faced difficulties during 2013, including the economy. He added that he is proud of the resiliency the city shows despite obstacles.
"You guys know the uncertainty in the economy is still around," Wear said. "We were not hit as hard as some other places. I attribute that to our strong brand."
Specifically, Wear noted that the city faced unfortunate weather during part of tourism season, calling it "soggy spring." He also mentioned the impact of the federal government shutdown last fall.
"The government shutdown, which closed down the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, couldn't have happened at a worse time, in October, in our fall foliage," Wear said. "I think we actually dodged a bullet. It could have been worse."
Wear urged community involvement to make the city a better place.
"I want to challenge everybody in the city," Wear said. "We need to grow our community pride, because our community pride will be shown in our product. Get involved in any way you can. Find something to get involved in, if nothing else just give time. It will pay off."