Corinth CVB funds issue could involve park upgrade

By Lena Mitchell/NEMS Daily Journal Corinth Bureau

CORINTH – Corinth plans another fiscal year 2013 budget work session this week, when some parts of the city’s budget are likely to become more well-defined.
During last week’s budget work session the Board of Aldermen reviewed budget requests from department heads and from outside agencies, with no action taken.
Alderman Andrew “Bubba” Labas has been a party to discussions with Alcorn County Board President Lowell Hinton and Supervisor Tim Mitchell that would redirect $250,000 of the Corinth Area Convention and Visitors Bureau’s funds to shore up the arena’s budget, freeing up funds the city and county could use elsewhere.
A question from the Daily Journal about how those funds would be used brought to light a broader plan that includes a major expansion to the jointly owned Crossroads Regional Park.
“We’ve discussed the possibility of doing some renovations to city park,” Labas said. “The savings we would have of money currently going to the arena, we would use a portion at city park.”
The Crossroads Regional Park expansion plan includes implementing a scaled-down version of a master plan for the park developed several years ago. Cook Coggin Engineers has drawn up a narrower plan that would add ball fields, upgrade other park facilities and extend the walking track.
Ultimately the coalition of city and county officials see using the Crossroads Arena bonding capacity to obtain a $4-$5 million bond to finance these park improvements. They have consulted with city and county attorneys on legalities of both the transfer of CVB funds and arena bonds.
Aspects not addressed so far in these discussions, which have not been open to the public or the press, are questions of management at both the arena and the park, as well as revenue projections for the expanded park facility.
During the past three years since a long-time general manager for the arena resigned, the arena has been managed by a committee from the seven-member board, except for the four-month tenure last year of Kathryn Dilworth as general manager. Hinton said they expect to use some of the arena’s new funds to recruit a general manager.
At its Aug. 2 budget work session Alcorn County supervisors were vocal about concerns over management at the park. Among the issues they raised were the high salary of the park’s director, poor supervision of state prisoners, absenteeism among permanent employees and generally poor maintenance of the park as a whole.
The entire park board was invited to the Aug. 6 supervisor meeting, but none of the issues were addressed.
Hinton said the board members and park director now understand that the facility will be getting closer scrutiny and these problems and issues will need to be rectified.
Members of the CVB board are questioning the advisability of redirecting almost half of their $567,000 FY 2013 budget request. They have annually supported arena marketing promotions, last year in the amount of $75,000.
lena.mitchell@journalinc.com