CAPC director reflects on first month of work

Friday, September 20, 2019

By Samantha Jones

The Eureka Springs City Advertising and Promotion welcomed new director Lacey Ekberg in August, and Ekberg said she hit the ground running.

On Wednesday, Sept. 11, Ekberg said her first three weeks of work have been consumed by meetings. Ekberg said she's "pretty much hit up every association there is" in and around Eureka Springs, including the Eureka Springs Chamber of Commerce, Main Street Eureka Springs and the Heart of Eureka merchants organization.

"We have had good discussion about what the needs are what needs to happen," Ekberg said. "The big thing right now is trying to get people's event list for next year."

Ekberg said she wants to layer events put on by other organizations into the CAPC's marketing plan, saying she believes working together will help her "do an actual marketing plan" featuring everything happening in town.

Ekberg said she's been working with finance director Rick Bright on the 2020 budget, and Bright said he's already received a budget item request from Mayor Butch Berry. Berry has asked the commission to budget $70,000, Bright said, to fund the construction of an elevator in The Auditorium.

"That's a subject for the next workshop," Bright said.

Bright said the Auditorium is at the center of budget discussions, saying he's been looking into purchasing a used sound system that would accommodate big acts performing at the venue. The CAPC has to rent a sound system, Bright said, to put on any major production. That's because the current sound system was installed in the 1990s, Bright said.

"What we've learned is it's fine for the school programs but the bands that are touring won't use our system," Bright said. "They just expect more than what we have here. It's getting kind of costly."

Bright said the commission needs to adjust the Auditorium's salaries and wages, too.

"Because of the shows we're bringing in here now, we have more than we budgeted for," Bright said, "but we also have more income. We'll just offset it by budgeting more on the income side and putting it in salaries and wages."

The commission moved on to discuss a recent city meeting on emergency and media communications. Ekberg said the city is working toward an all-encompassing plan for responding to emergency situations like a tornado.

"If something horrific happens that would involve fire and EMS, that would be directed toward the mayor to do statements," Ekberg said. "They're going to set up a situation at the courthouse city hall for the media to be stationed."

CAPC chairwoman Carol Wright advised commissioners on how to respond to the media in emergency situations.

"If you get a media contact, my suggestion would be if it's something you're uncomfortable with or don't know the answer to," Wright said, "say, 'I don't have the answer to that but I'll have someone get back to you.' "

In other business, Bright presented the financial report, saying the cash balance as of Aug. 31 was $637,679.08. He listed tax collections remitted in August, from July collections. He said restaurants brought in $87,322, up $8,280 (10.5 percent). Total lodging collections were $84,805, up $2,471 (15.7 percent). These lodging collections include: $18,255 for hotels, up $2,471 (15.7 percent); $41,573 for motels, up $51 (0.1 percent); $5,714 for B&Bs, up $452 (8.6 percent); and $19,263 for cabins and cottages, down $74 (0.4 percent). Bright said the year-to-date lodging collections compared with 2018 are down $9,397 (2.2 percent) and the year-to-date restaurant collections compared with 2018 are up $3,506 (1.5 percent). The year-to-date total collections, he said, are down $1,317 (0.3 percent).

The commission will meet for a workshop at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 25, at The Auditorium.

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