The City Advertising and Promotion Commission met Wednesday, Sept. 23 where Finance Director Rick Bright said that the adjusted 2020 budget is holding steady. “As of today, we are up $30,000 from what we budgeted,” he told commissioners.
August tax collections, which reflect July activity, indicate that lodging was up 122 percent over expected revenue. Compared to 2019, however, the lodging tax earnings were down by $117,314 and restaurants down $148,383.
Bright said with the budget adjusted down for the pandemic, year-to-date collections are up $136,504.
Crescent Hotel General Manager Jack Moyer requested that commissioners spend an additional $100,000 for added marketing support to help finish 2020 strong. The primary opponent of that was commissioner James DeVito who said it was a “rosy scenario” to state the commission has a surplus, given reducing the budget for the health pandemic.
“We are down $450,000 from last year,” DeVito said clearly.
Commissioners unanimously approved an allocation of $50,000 to the advertising and media budget, but permission to spend the funds was suspended for further consideration.
Medical opinion and outlook
Co-founder of ECHO Clinic and Village, Dr. Dan Bell, made an appearance at the CAPC meeting last Wednesday at Chair Carol Wright’s request. Bell was asked to provide realistic expectations of the health pandemic as it relates to Eureka Springs.
Bell said he was not an expert on the pandemic, but shared his thoughts based on research and observations as a physician. He said that hospitalizations are the highest they have ever been, he doesn’t see that improving by the end of 2020, and he expects an uptick of cases through the holidays.
“I think we are going to see a peak in the spring that’s going to be two, or three, or four times higher than where we are right now — that’s my humble opinion.” Bell’s prediction aligned the Covid crisis with the annual flu season where historically the third week of January is when a strong uptick of flu cases may be expected. If this trend holds true, Bell said he thinks Covid cases may also spike at that time, but that in early spring the country may finally see relief in the increased cases. He also said he doesn’t think by this time next year the pandemic will be over and promoted continued mask wearing, testing, and outdoor dining. He said, “The good news is people want to come to Eureka, but the bad news is people want to come to Eureka.”
Parks gets permission to use logo
Commissioners voted to direct Interim Director Gina Rambo to give Parks the CAPC logo where they can use a unique color but be consistent with design. The Eureka Springs Parks map was also discussed and commissioners decided to redesign the map for a cohesive design in line with the marketing theme and make corrections for accuracy. The updated map process was estimated to cost $7,500 including printing to be paid by the CAPC.
A section of the 2021 budget whereas they unanimously approved spending $711,000 for advertising through Paradise Marketing was approved.
The next scheduled meeting is a workshop on Wednesday, October 14, at 4 p.m. in the AUD.