Community visitors' bureau hoping to pull tax dollars away from - WNEM TV 5

Community visitors' bureau hoping to pull tax dollars away from county control

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BIRCH RUN, MI (WNEM) -

During the holiday shopping season, Exit 136 off of Interstate 75 in Saginaw County is extremely busy.

In fact, it's the second busiest exit along I-75, only behind Orlando, Florida.

The Birch Run Convention and Visitors’ bureau has been trying to get local control of tax dollars generated at hotels in their city for quite a while now.

Mike Szukhent, Birch Run CVB president, said he would like to see the area grow even more.

"Huge draw to Saginaw County," Szukhent said.

He said to help the city continue to grow the $300,000 hotel taxes collected in Birch Run should stay in Birch Run.

As opposed to going to the Saginaw CVB. The first step: the county services committee.

On Wednesday, he took his case to the Saginaw County Board of Commissioners.

"I think we have worked long and hard at getting to where we are today," Szukhent said.

But that committee isn't ready to accept the idea, at least not yet.

"We don't want to set anybody up for failure, we want to set them up for success," said Saginaw County Controller Robert Belleman.

County leaders say the Birch Run CVB has not met the criteria set to manage the tax revenue on a local level.

The Saginaw CVB has been asked to assess Birch Run's plan.

"That's why we're so rigorous in our vetting of the information, because these are tax dollars, and we want to be good stewards of those funds," said Saginaw CVB president, Dr. Annette Rummel.

But Szukhent said there's been plenty of vetting and he believes his organization has shown it's ready.

"They told everybody they are supportive of Birch Run getting there, until you get there, and then the finish line keeps getting moved, or maybe erased," Szukhent said.

The Frankenmuth CVB started using hotel tax money 15 years ago, and leaders there said it’s been a success.

Szukhent said he hopes to see the same thing in Birch Run.

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