The new Columbus-Lowndes Convention and Visitors Bureau board is being more careful with its budget dollars, requesting line-by-line budgets from those requesting funding for festivals and other special events.
The board also asked for an itemized list of CVB credit-card expenditures, and CVB Interim Director Nancy Carpenter is working with an accountant to better account for money spent. In the past, several items were listed as miscellaneous expenses. For example, in 2010, the CVB logged spending $6,500 on miscellaneous expenditures, which might include such things as buying ice for events.
“We won”t have nearly as much miscellaneous spending,” Carpenter told the board, explaining that funds would be better accounted for.
The board will review its financial statements during its May meeting. An accountant continued to work on a sort of internal audit, and the board did not have accurate information to review during its Monday meeting.
The CVB is funded through a 2-percent restaurant tax, which provided about $1.4 million in 2010 to be spent at the CVB board”s discretion.
In the past, the board has spent at least $200,000 a year in advertising, provided $193,000 to the Columbus-Lowndes Development Link and $100,000 to fund a plethora of local cultural, tourism and special events.
Several individuals appeared before the board on Monday, requesting funding for various events.
· Tresa Sanders requested $10,000 on behalf of Artesia Days, which is held in downtown Artesia on the first Friday and Saturday of August. Last year”s event drew 7,000 to 8,000 patrons and featured about 30 vendors. This year”s event will feature Jackson rapper Nunu, who Sanders said “is very popular with the young people.”
“Crawford is a town of 496 people, (so) you imagine 7,000 to 8,000 people in our town. And we don”t have any hotels in Artesia, so we recommend they stay in Columbus.”
· James Samuel requested $1,200 from the CVB to support the Southside Reunion, an event geared toward bringing those who have moved out of state back to Columbus. The event is slated for July 3-5 at Hank Aaron Park. It is the first time the event has requested funding from the CVB. Previously, it was paid for entirely out of pocket by reunion committee members.
“We started at about $100 a piece. Last year, we were up to $400 a piece,” Samuel said. “We paid for everything. We did not ask for support from anyone.”
This year, organizers are looking to expand their reach, anticipating anywhere from 800 to 1,000 attendees.
The $1,200 would be used for advertising and to offer an educational supplement to “poor children on the Southside,” Samuel said. “The food, entertainment and everything else is on us.”
· Kattie Wilson presented information on the Crawford Cotton Boll Festival in Crawford Mayor Fred Tolon”s absence. The town requested $8,000 with a minimum of $5,000 to fund the festival, July 2-3.
Wilson said expenditures would be about $13,500 with an economic return of about $25,000 in the form of hotel stays, food, gas and shopping.
· Melvela Andrews requested $22,000 from the CVB to support the Southside/Townsend Park Blues Festival, June 30-July 2. The event draws from 10,000 to 12,000 people, she said.
The CVB board will decide at their May meeting how much and if they will allocate funds to the events. In the past, the board has provided half the funds upfront and the other half once presented with final receipts and budget lines. In response to discussion about more detailed budget lines, including sponsorship, vendors and related fees and advertising, board member George Swales suggested withholding funds on the front end if such details were not given to the board in advance.
Board members also discussed outlining clear guidelines on how it would be determined whether or not an entity requesting funds was truly nonprofit. The CVB only provides funding for not-for-profit organizations.