CVB beats budget expectations

TUPELO – The Tupelo Convention and Visitors Bureau ended its fiscal year on a high financial note, reporting that tourism tax revenues continued their more than 20-year history of growth in Tupelo.
The CVB, which is the tourism and marketing arm of the city, also will contribute money to its savings account, even though it had budgeted to dip into the fund for about $300,000 in fiscal year 2010.
As of Sept. 30 – the final day in the CVB’s fiscal year – the CVB had $192,522 in revenues above expenditures, according to preliminary figures from the city of Tupelo. Neal McCoy, the CVB’s executive director, said the CVB still has some bills to pay that will make the final revenue amount smaller.
Yet, he said, there “will be a good positive to roll over into the balance.” The fund balance essentially is the CVB’s savings account and rainy day fund.
The CVB’s revenue comes from a 2 percent tourism tax on hotels, motels and restaurants. For FY2010, the tax generated $3,236,13, an increase of 2.82 percent from the previous year.
The CVB had based its FY2010 budget on 3 percent growth. For FY2011, the CVB has lowered its forecast to 1 percent growth.
For July – the final sales month in the CVB’s fiscal year – tourism tax revenues fell 7.26 percent compared to July 2009. Yet, McCoy noted that tax collections in FY2009 were much higher than normal.
McCoy said that even though revenues came in lower than expected for the year, the CVB was able to stay within budget by cutting back on expenses.
“We did go conservative,” he said. “When we saw those dips, we did tighten our belts.”
The CVB cut expenses such as in-house sponsorships of sporting events, film events and conventions.
Also, “if one person could travel and do what two people had done, we sent one,” McCoy said.
Plus, the CVB sliced its $75,000 public relations bill in half by handling the work by staff members instead of an outside PR agency, McCoy said.
“All in all, we’re good,” he said. “Everything’s pretty much in order.”
Contact Carlie Kollath at (662) 678-1598 or carlie.kollath@djournal.com.

Carlie Kollath/NEMS Daily Journal