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Officials turn attention to tourism budget

May 11, 2011

By PAUL SIMS
sdnedu@bellsouth.net

The board leading the Starkville Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) will turn its attention to budget matters in the coming months, factoring the panel’s annual sponsorship distribution.
The Visitors and Convention Council agreed by consent Wednesday to assemble a budget committee consisting of Jeremiah Dumas, the panel’s chair, Bethany Stich, Michelle Jones and Bill Daniel.
The committee will meet July 20, then ready a budget for consideration – along with the sponsorships – at their Aug. 10 meeting. Last year, the panel distributed $49,500 for 16 different events, functions or needs.
Officials will evaluate this year’s sponsorship applications to fund different impact tourism in Starkville, looking “at their likeliness to increase revenue” to the city’s hotel and restaurant taxes, Dumas said after the meeting.
The two forms of tax are split five ways in their distributions – 40 percent to Starkville Parks and Recreation; 20 percent to Mississippi State University Student Affairs; CVB, 15 percent; Oktibbeha County Economic Development Authority, 15 percent and the city of Starkville, 10 percent.
While tourism officials haven’t made funding projections for next year, revenue is tracking about 5 to 10 percent above budgeted revenue, he said.
The CVB budgeted $135,000 from the hotel tax and has received $91,208.19, while they anticipate $200,000 from the food and beverage taxes, which have generated $123,667.62.
Sponsorship applications will be available June 1 through the Greater Starkville Development Partnership. The deadline to submit applications is July 8 at 5 p.m.
In other matters, the Visitors and Convention Council:
u Discussed a plan – which is in the initial stages of development – to train customer service professionals who work front desks at local businesses about area attractions.
u Learned officials have set up Facebook and Twitter accounts to provide all-encompassing information on tourism events as well as businesses and restaurants. The Facebook page is: “Starkville: Mississippi’s College Town” and the Twitter feed is @mscollegetown.
The effort is designed to “meet the demands of the culture change,” Dumas said after he meeting.

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