CVB board mulls conservative budget

TUPELO – The Tupelo Convention amp& Visitors Bureau on Tuesday proposed a budget of $3.3 million for the 2009 fiscal year, up slightly from this year.
The figure was presented at the CVB board’s annual budget retreat held at the Tupelo Country Club. Board members will vote on the budget Aug. 17.
The figure comes from the city’s budgeting and accounting department, according to CVB Executive Director Linda Butler Johnson. The board then allocates the money.
One million dollars immediately comes off the top of the annual budget to pay the CVB’s part of its debt commitment for the BancorpSouth Arena. The CVB also takes off $105,000 to repay the bond money used to renovate its building and add a visitors center.
The bulk of the money – $3.2 million – comes from a 2 percent sales tax on hotels, motels and restaurants that’s referred to as the tourism tax.
Projected growth
The amount is based on a projected 3 percent growth of the sales tax. As of June, the city’s tourism tax averaged 2.78 percent.
“We have a very tight budget and we continue to be very conservative with our budget,” Johnson said.
This year’s average was helped out with the April money, which was received in June and reported at Tuesday’s meeting.
The CVB reported sales tax revenues of $264,917, down about 5 percent from the prior-year period. Yet, the drop wasn’t nearly as severe as the 19.5 percent nosedive the month before.
In fiscal year 2008, the tourism tax grew nearly 7.1 percent.
The CVB also is budgeting $75,000 to host the state’s Governor’s Conference on Tourism, an event that hasn’t been held in Tupelo for 20 years.
Along with the budget, the CVB board members and staffers used the time to discuss their five-year-goal plan, which will end in 2010.
So far, they’ve knocked out the big projects – completing the CVB’s renovation, completing support of a new eight-field baseball complex and getting additional signs for the CVB and area attractions.
The remaining goals include establishing a marketing plan for the CVB and creating new bilingual materials.

Carlie Kollath/NEMS Daily Journal

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