Despite budget uncertainty, Tourism offers raise
Dec 26, 2007 | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Though an apparent misconception by members of the tourism commission interpreted a projected $5,000 shortfall in the 2008 budget as a gain, hourly employees of the commission will still receive a three percent raise in the coming year.

Commissioner Greg Batts said, “We’re projecting a loss of $5,000 if our projected income is $147,000 and our expenses are $152,000”

Fellow Commissioner Alan Watts said that the commission had $70,000 left in accounts from this year and could afford to pay employees.

Chairman of the Board John Rufli said, “The budget last year showed us with a $22,000 shortfall and now we have a surplus. Maybe the budget making process needs to be looked at.”

Batts added, “It’s nice to give a raise but if we are losing money, we can’t be responsible fiscal overseers and do this.” He said that as manager of the hired personnel Director Bill Stevens should be responsible for setting the range of the raise.

Commissioner Mallory Lawrence said that having worked only since October, Stevens might not be familiar enough with the performance of the three hourly workers to properly evaluate their performance, and moved to give up to three percent for the three workers. Batts added a stipulation to the motion that Stevens should evaluate the staff for future raises.

“If we have good employees, they may not continue to work without raises,” said Commissioner Lisa Rogers. “They need some incentive to continue to work.”

Rufli said that the commission withheld raises in 2007 given the uncertainty of collection of transient room taxes from Lake Barkley State Resort Park while the facility underwent renovation. The closure of the park contributed to the conservative budget estimates for 2007 as well. He proposed revisiting the budget quarterly to evaluate what programs should be included or eliminated from the commission’s marketing plans.

“At the end of they year, we should spend every bit of our money to get tourists to visit,” said Commissioner John Bryant.

Rufli said the commission should carry a reserve for emergency maintenance and other opportunities.

The commission passed the raise and tabled further discussion on the budget to allow Stevens to amend it to reflect the raise and further evaluate income and expenditure projections for next year.

During the meeting, the commission selected officers for 2008. Rufli will continue to chair the panel while Lisa Rogers will serve as secretary. Bryant will serve as treasurer for the board.

The commission reviewed the Downtown Merchants’ Association’s proposal to update the billboard on Interstate 24 in Clarksville, Tenn. near the state line. The association hopes to gain 80 percent of the $8,000 cost of the sign through matching funds through the commission’s affiliation with the Kentucky Department of Tourism. The Merchants’ Association plans to pay the 20 percent balance themselves.

The new sign resembles the current, advertising six antique malls, specialty shops and lists the exit number and mileage to reach Cadiz. It refers to Cadiz as a “Ky. Renaissance City” and bears the Kentucky “Unbridled Spirit” logo to qualify for the funding. Deleted is a reference to the Janice Mason Art Museum.

“I feel like Cinderella because there is nothing about the Lakes or the Land Between the Lakes, which are our two biggest draws,” said Batts. In previous discussions, Batts was critical of funding the sign with matching grants without references to businesses other than the antique shops. He operates the Prizer Point Marina and Campground.

Rufli added, “I feel like if tourism is matching funds, it ought to refer to more than antique shops.”

“I often hear visitors say that they ate at McDonald’s because they did not know that there were other restaurants downtown,” said Bryant who owns the downtown restaurant Hot Diggity Dog. He also asked if it would be possible to hire the entire sign, rather than the half used now. He said that the perception is with the split sign, visitors associate the information on the bottom half with Cadiz and may get the wrong impression about proximity and attractions.

Rogers said that the Merchants’ Association had lost members due to the emphasis on antique shops.

Rufli agreed with the commission that the association should revise its plan before submitting for matching funds.

For the full story on county tourism, read this week's Cadiz Record.
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