By Lena Mitchell/NEMS Daily Journal
CORINTH – The Corinth Area Convention and Visitors Bureau/Tourism Council voted Tuesday to offer a compromise budget to Corinth and Alcorn County, hoping to help the two agencies needing funding while not decimating their own programs.
The CVB/tourism council voted unanimously to have CVB Executive Director Kristy White revise the budget to allocate $75,000 for the Crossroads Arena and $75,000 for Crossroads Regional Park, to be used for advertising, promotion and capital projects upon approval by the tourism board.
Alcorn County supervisors and Corinth aldermen have been pressuring the tourism group to allocate $250,000 for Crossroads Arena operations so the two government bodies can reallocate funds they have budgeted for the arena and redirect those funds to the park.
Under tourism board members’ understanding of the tourism tax law that allocates 1 percent of the 2 percent tax for tourism promotion and 1 percent to retire the arena debt, none of the tourism tax funds can be used for operations.
“The law reads, ‘The proceeds of said tax shall not be considered by the city or county as general fund revenues, but shall be dedicated to and used by the council solely for the purpose of carrying out programs and activities designed to attract tourists to the city and surrounding area,’” said board member Glennan Grady. “That seems pretty clear.”
The CVB/tourism council has carefully evaluated the few capital projects it has funded in the past, and those have mostly been at the park. By increasing the amount of money already allocated for marketing and promotion at the arena and doing the same for the park, Grisham said maybe the city and county would agree to go ahead with their current funding budget at the arena.
These changes, board members agreed, would meet all groups’ objectives without killing any CVB programs, particularly trade shows.
“It took us five, six, seven years to get our name out there to these groups at the trade shows, and if we stop that now we’ll have to start all over,” said board member Ricky Maracle. “There are bus groups and people coming in here now who have never been here before. To me that’s a key to our success.”
In early August the CVB submitted a budget of $567,000 to the city and county, with funds paid from the city’s tax collections to the CVB in monthly installments.
Neither the county board nor the city board has met as a full body to discuss the CVB/tourism council’s budget in detail. Meetings of city and county board members have been conducted behind closed doors without notice to the public or the press, including a suddenly called meeting on Friday.
CVB officials have been told that unless they allocate the full $250,000 to the arena, a joint meeting of city and county boards will be held and writing of the CVB budget will be taken out of their hands.