By Lena Mitchell/NEMS Daily Journal
CORINTH – Corinth Area Convention and Visitors Bureau board members have postponed a response to a demand they transfer $250,000 of their budget to another agency.
The group voted Thursday to meet again at 8 a.m. Tuesday to develop a response.
CVB Board Chairman Chris Porterfield told board members Judge John Ross, Glennan Grady, Melissa Carson and Jason Grisham on Thursday that some city and county officials are demanding submission of a new budget from the CVB reflecting a line item sending $250,000 of CVB funds to the Crossroads Arena.
Unless they do so, the officials said, the county and city boards will meet as a “supercommittee” to make changes in the CVB’s budget that they deem necessary.
Board members Luke Doehner and Ricky Maracle did not attend Thursday’s meeting.
Porterfield has participated in discussions with Supervisors Lowell Hinton and Tim Mitchell and Aldermen Andrew “Bubba” Labas and A.L. “Chip” Wood, wherein some funds that the county and city currently use to fund arena operations would be transferred to other projects after the $250,000 is reallocated to the arena.
Both board’s attorneys and others have been involved in several meetings of this group to discuss transfer of $250,000 from the CVB’s portion of a 2 percent tourism tax to fund operations at the arena. The officials have been careful to keep their numbers to fewer than a quorum to retain legality, and none of the meetings have been announced to the public or the press.
The arena and the tourism board each receive 1 percent from the tax, the arena’s portion of which is used to pay the note on the building and other capital expenses. The Corinth Area Tourism Promotion Council/CVB’s 1 percent is designated “for the purpose of providing funds for the promotion of tourism.”
In early August the CVB submitted a budget of $567,000 to the city and county, a budget that has usually been readily approved by both governments, with funds paid from the city’s tax collections to the CVB in monthly installments.
Since knowledge that members of the county and city boards have been meeting come to light, it also has been revealed that there is a secondary agenda at work.
High on the priority list of ways the two bodies want to use funds diverted from the CVB is an expansion at Crossroads Regional Park to attract ball tournaments.
Funding that expansion would require a domino series of financial events to occur, ultimately leading to using the arena’s available bond equity to be tapped for the $4 million to $5 million of work at the park.
Before any of the other maneuvers could occur, the $250,000 needed for the arena’s budget must be accounted for elsewhere.