Politics

Tourism Commission readies 2019 budget; meets Thursday

By Rick Kennedy, managing editor
The Hope City Board meeting wasn’t the only one in town on Tuesday night as the budget committee of the Hope Tourism Commission met in a special session 30 minutes after the city board meeting and ended up in the budget session over twice as long.
Particularly for Mayor Steve Montgomery and Board member Don Still, it was a long night since they were at both meetings; joining them for the special budget session was Parks, Recreation and Tourism Director Paul Henley, who acts as the staff head of the Tourism Commission, and Tourism Chair Sharon Caldwell. Board member Trevor Coffee, who had been reappointed earlier in the evening during the Hope City Board meeting, was not present at the special budget session.
Afterwards, Henley said, “We prepared the 2019 budget after reviewing our expenses for 2018. We have a budget that is a little over a half-a-million (or $500,000) with the majority coming from the ‘Hamburger Tax.'”
Henley added, “We do have a little revenue coming from a couple of other places like the RV Park and the Coliseum rent, but the two-percent Tourism tax is the bulk of our revenues.”
For 2019, the earmarked projects, Henley said are “Parks and Tourism, with the idea being to make improvements at Fair Park, plus increase advertising for the city. So those are the major things, we use that money for. Improvements to Fair Park, and advertising and promoting Hope in different mediums.”
In the past, the Tourism Commission has used their budget to actually purchase major items like scoreboard at the ball field, which Henley said, “That would fall under improvements to Fair Park.”
For 2019, Henley said the Tourism Commission budgeted $70,000 for the downtown Pavilion, now under construction in Hope’s downtown.
Henley also said that $109,000 was going to matching grants for playground improvements as well as spending some money for the old Foster property adjacent to the Clinton birthplace.
“We will also look forward to producing a new brochure for the City of Hope; we’ve had a brochure for several years, but now, we will be producing a new brochure,” Henley said.
Henley concluded saying, “We will also continue spending money in promotion of the major events, like Train Day and the Watermelon Festival. Last year, we spend money to put in new electrical capacity at Fair Park, but that is one of the big expenses that we won’t have for 2019.”
The full Tourism Commission will meet Thursday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. for its first regular meeting of 2019; it has traditionally met at the downtown Train Depot.

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