CVB to take out $500K in credit

August 17, 2010 9:48:00 AM

Ryan Poe -


The Columbus Convention and Visitors Bureau board of directors voted Monday to accept bids on a $500,000 line of credit to finish several major projects this year, including the $400,000 Tennessee Williams Home and Welcome Center on Main Street. 


With a $108,000 grant, the bureau is on budget to finish the house, but that and other major expenses are draining the board''s budget, said CVB Executive Director James Tsismanakis. 


The CVB is simultaneously refurbishing the welcome center and finishing its new office building next door.  


Another project the CVB is working on is a proposed art park to be located near Rex''s Rentals, next to the Tennessee Williams Welcome Center. 


At its meeting Monday, the board approved a third payment of $95,000 for work to the welcome center. 


CVB will buy 4,000 square feet of office space in the building next to the Tennessee Williams house for $432,000, said board member John Bean. The cost to finish the inside work will be about $250,000. 


The board, along with the city of Columbus and Lowndes County, also is putting $133,333 toward renovating the old Highway 82 bridge over the Tombigbee River near the Riverwalk, paying a third of the $400,000 needed to match a $2 million grant from the Mississippi Department of Transportation. The city then will own and maintain the bridge, currently owned by the county. 


The board will first approach banks that the CVB has accounts with now, including Trustmark, Cadence and Bank First, Tsismanakis said. 


"We''re going to look for the best rate," he added. 


The board may not use the entire $500,000, but will likely have to use at least part of it to make it until the end of the year, said CVB secretary treasurer Glen Lautzenhiser. 


"It just gives us flexibility to pay for these things without cashing our CDs," he said. 


Although the CVB has reserves, most of those are in yearly CDs, Bean said. 


"We can''t just go grab it," he said. 


State Tax Commission records show Columbus'' special tourism tax took in $1.5 million from July 1, 2008-June 30, 2009. The CVB is operating under a $1.37 million budget for 2010.