On Oct. 28 the City Advertising and Promotion Commission held a regular meeting where new financial reports showed the year-to-date revenue down by 25 percent, or $263,209, compared to 2019. But, in the month of September alone, the tax collections in 2020 were 1.6 percent higher than the same month in 2019, indicating potential for a slow economic turnaround.
Since the commission tightened the budget in the second quarter by reducing spending, the annual tax revenue received through September exceeds the adjusted budget by 29.8 percent, or $181,557. About 80 percent of that increase is primarily contributed from lodging and a smaller portion is from restaurants.
This ratio indicates the adverse operating challenges facing local restaurants during the health pandemic. It also reflects a disproportionate relationship of dining establishments to lodging availabilities, with the local economy providing considerably more lodging in Eureka Springs than places to eat and drink.
Tourists are less likely to have to wait in line for a hotel room than to wait for a table at a restaurant, but commissioners unanimously voted to approve channeling $75,000 to the 2020 media placement budget to cover an influx of advertising spending with Paradise Marketing of Florida.
Folk Festival reshaped
The 73rd annual Ozark Folk Festival was discussed as it is still scheduled on Nov. 12-15, however there is no budget for the event. Because of the mayor’s sanctions against public events in the Auditorium and Basin Park during the pandemic, the festival will be modified primarily to overhead music on Spring Street and live music performances in private businesses such as the Gravel Bar, Chelseas’s and Gotahold Brewery. A specific list of performances can be found at eurekasprings.org.
Some salaries batted around
The CAPC discussion shifted to the 2021 budget, where administration wages were reviewed. Gina Rambo currently serves as the interim director with an annual salary of $64,625, but upon hiring a director, Rambo’s salary would revert back to a publicist’s salary of $43,825.
While the preliminary 2021 budget for a director salary was stated at $55,000, commissioners said they do not plan to fill the position for some time. Commissioner Susan Harman discussed raising Rambo’s salary when a director is hired, but no raises were discussed for Finance Director Rick Bright or the Group Sales/Administrative assistant Karen Pryor, currently at $47,008 and $37,356.
Harman also said there needs to be discussion on shifting the special events contractor, Tracy Johnson, to an employee status with a salary of $42,000 plus benefits.
The total 2021 preliminary budget is $1,575,000 and the commission has so far approved $711,000 for the production and media advertising expenses through Paradise Marketing. The remaining 2021 budget, including the administration portion, $277,000, and special events, $193,000, has not been finalized.
There could be a vote at the next regular meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 18, at 6 p.m. in the AUD.