Officials to discuss Corinth tourism issues

By Lena Mitchell/NEMS Daily Journal

CORINTH – A public meeting is planned Jan. 2 for the Corinth mayor and aldermen, Alcorn County supervisors and the tourism board/Corinth Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.
A notice from the city announcing the meeting said the joint boards – also known as the supercommittee – would meet to discuss administrative issues with the tourism board.
In September, the joint boards reduced the tourism board’s operating budget by almost 50 percent, allocating $250,000 to the Crossroads Arena, a joint city-county owned facility. In the process they developed a line item budget that included several reductions where the tourism board had already signed contracts, such as inclusion in the state tourism guide and a contract for copier services.
To access the increased subsidy the arena must submit requests for marketing and promotion funds to the tourism board on a case-by-case basis for reimbursement or direct payment of bills as it has in the past.
However, an arena funding request submitted to tourism in November included a blanket request for $380,000, which included the salary for a new arena manager of $90,000.
The arena recently hired a new manager who is set to begin work on Jan. 15.
In diverting a portion of the tourism board’s budget members of the joint city and county supercommittee defined a third objective as shoring up the budget of Crossroads Regional Park.
The boards would use equity in the arena building to obtain $4.5 million to $5 million in bonds to expand and upgrade the park. A combined $175,000 that previously was allocated to arena operations in the city and county budgets would then be designated for maintenance at the park.
Though legislation authorizing Corinth’s 2 percent tourism tax establishes the tourism board as the entity that will administer 1 percent of those funds for marketing, tourism promotion and capital expenses, city and county officials have questioned tourism board operations since the new fiscal year began Oct. 1.
The Jan. 2 meeting may clarify some of those issues.
lena.mitchell@journalinc.com