August 19, 2014 10:44:26 AM
Eleven Lowndes County festivals will have one more year before they begin to see less and less financial assistance from the Columbus-Lowndes Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The CVB Board of Directors approved asking executive director Nancy Carpenter to inform festival organizers that receive CVB grants that they will receive 25 percent less in 2016 than they do next year. Under the board's plan, the events will continue to see 25 percent reductions each year after 2016.
Board members said adopting the sliding scale in 2016 achieves the goal of freeing up money in the future for more events while giving organizers of the ones they currently help support.
"They should be self-sustaining at some point," board member Rissa Lawrence said. "We want to be able to fund new events."
Board members Mark Castleberry and Bernard Buckhalter noted that many festivals the CVB gives money to each year have received funding for several years.
"People might have some wonderful ideas that we're not aware of right now and we don't have the ability to help them get started," Castleberry said.
Board members took the action during their retreat Monday at Burnt Oak Lodge. They also passed the 2015 fiscal year budget, which projects $1,650,800 in revenue and $1,650,882 in expenses.
The CVB will provide a total of $86,000 to 11 local events this year and budget $144,442 for special projects.
One festival that did not receive funding for the upcoming fiscal year was Dream 365. Carpenter said she had spoken with organizers of the event, who said they would not host the event in 2015. The week-long event was a celebration of the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Carpenter to receive raise
The board of directors also approved a 4.5 percent raise to Carpenter's $80,000 salary as CVB executive director and $15,000 as director of the Columbus Cultural Heritage Foundation, pending completion of an annual performance review. The matter will be re-addressed during the board's September meeting. Carpenter would receive $83,600 a year beginning in October to lead the CVB and $15,675 to direct the CCHF.
The raise was approved unanimously. Board member Whirllie Byrd was absent from the retreat.
Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.
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