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November 1, 2017 11:41:08 AM
The Columbus-Lowndes Convention and Visitors Bureau is projected to spend all but $3.62 of its allotted revenue in Fiscal Year 2018, according to a budget document the organization provided The Dispatch.
CVB projects $2,035,047 in revenue for the budget year, with more than $1.9 million of that coming from 2-percent restaurant tax collections. Other listed revenue includes $50,000 from bank loan proceeds and $100 in interest income.
That tax revenue has increased over 50 percent since 2008-09, when total revenues were $1.3 million.
The budget CVB provided did not show any reserve funds.
Per the state legislation setting up the current 10-year term for the sales tax, CVB contributes 15 percent to the Golden Triangle Development LINK for economic development, which the budget estimates will amount to $210,000 in FY 2018. Those funds make up approximately 10 percent of the LINK's budget.
Among the organization's greatest projected expenses is $425,000 in marketing and advertising, which Executive Director Nancy Carpenter said covers sponsorships and ad spots ranging from local media to Mississippi State University athletic events.
Payroll makes up $302,496.71 of CVB's 2018 budget. Carpenter said the bureau employs five full-time and three part-time employees, but she did not provide a salary breakdown for those employees.
Other budgeted expenses include $247,840.53 for the Columbus Cultural Heritage Foundation, which oversees the annual Pilgrimage event with antebellum home tours.
Also, the CVB has allotted $164,200 for special projects/recreation, which Carpenter said is to host or promote fishing, soccer, baseball, basketball, softball and golf tournaments, as well events like the Possum Town Triathlon, Wings over Columbus (in conjunction with Columbus Air Force Base) and Mississippi University for Women athletics.
CVB plans to pay out $79,500 in grants to nine local festivals this fiscal year - including Artesia Days, Caledonia Days, Crawford Days, Juneteenth, Market Street, Roast N Boast, the Seventh Avenue Heritage Festival, the Tennessee Williams Tribute and the Southside-Townsend Blues Festival - as well as a $40,000 grant to the city of Columbus for beautification.
If CVB lost funding, or if the Legislature does not renew the restaurant tax set to expire in July 2018, those areas would be hardest hit.
"It would be really bad for those smaller festivals, especially," Carpenter said.
Zack Plair is the managing editor for The Dispatch.
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