CAPC agrees to cut expenses by nearly $400K

Thursday, June 4, 2020

By Samantha Jones

The Eureka Springs City Advertising and Promotion Commission is making budget cuts to get through the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Wednesday, May 27, the commission heard from finance director Rick Bright about the proposed budget cuts. According to the budget spreadsheet, the projected loss of income is $500,500, with $464,182 of that coming from tax collections. Other projected revenue shortfalls include $10,762 for the Aud concessions, $11,000 for other Aud income, $4,600 for website link income and $9,956 for interest.

Loss of income means the commission has to reduce expenses, Bright said. The total projected reduced expenses are $390,600, with $139,000 cut from special events. Other projected expense cuts include $78,800 for media, $3,000 for production, $15,000 for group travel, $50,400 for the Aud and $87,400 for office expenses.

Commissioner Susan Harman said she’d like to keep certain special events in the budget for now, including $50,000 for the Ozark Folk Festival and $25,000 for a Tanya Tucker concert. Harman said the commission can always remove those items from the budget when the time comes.

“We do have some things in here that are still in place for later on in the year,” Harman said. “Our entertainment still has some money in it.”

Harman suggested waiting to amend the budget further for at least 30 days and commissioner Jeff Carter agreed.

“Then, we’ll have more updated numbers,” Carter said. “We’ll have better numbers and more information about the virus and what the city is doing, so I’m comfortable with that.”

Carter asked events coordinator Tracy Johnson for an update on the Tanya Tucker concert and Johnson said she didn’t have an update at the moment.

“I can’t move forward with it until I get clearance of capacity and stuff,” Johnson said, “so nothing’s new on those.”

“The last time we talked you were going to reach out to the Passion Play and find out if that was an option,” Carter said.

“I’m in progress with that,” Johnson said. “Those shows are pretty tricky for lots of reasons. I don’t have anything definitive to share on that now, but I am trying to come up with alternate placement for that. It depends on when regulations are lifted.”

Harman asked what the plan is for the Six Weeks of Summer event and interim director Gina Rambo said the name of the event has changed to Six Weeks of Fun in Eureka Springs. The event is a community collaboration, Rambo said.

“We renamed it … because we don’t know the start date,” Rambo said. “It may not be summer, but it is still progressing. They’re looking for outside sources for funding.”

Harman asked if the commission is being asked to fund a fireworks show and Rambo said she’s not sure about that. Rambo said the group behind Six Weeks of Fun is looking for funding to hold a fireworks show, saying the group hopes to have more than one fireworks show if funding works out.

“That’s not something I’m involved with,” Rambo said. “It’s something the group is looking at. They may find funding for that elsewhere.”

Commissioner James DeVito asked about staffing and Rambo said the staff is “already running basically half-staffed.”

“We’re short two people. We’re all doing two jobs right now as it is,” Rambo said. “I am doing director stuff and still my other job, too. We’re all double-booked right now and working twice as hard. I don’t see any place we can make cuts, because I don’t know who else is going to do those jobs.”

DeVito said every other department in the city has had to reduce their budget by 50 to 70 percent.

“We’re not even at a third reduction in our budget. I’d be a little concerned that we’re … optimistic about the future,” DeVito said, “and I just don’t hold that to be true.”

DeVito said he believes a second wave of coronavirus is imminent, saying 55 percent of Americans have said they won’t be going anywhere for six months.

“We better keep these things in our head when we’re spending the people’s money. There’s a lot of businesses that aren’t going to make it,” DeVito said. “It’s their tax dollars that are supporting this organization and we have a responsibility to be frugal with this.”

DeVito suggested cutting the budget by another 25 percent.

“Right now, I don’t see anywhere near the cuts given the magnitude of what we’re facing,” DeVito said.

Harman said she understands that, saying the commission can always revisit the budget at its next meeting. Harman then moved to approve the budget cuts as presented with the next review planned for the commission’s workshop at 4 p.m. Wednesday, June 8, in the Auditorium. The commission unanimously approved the motion.

Commissioner Terry McClung then moved to reappoint Bobbie Foster to Position 4 and the commission voted to approve the motion. Foster’s reappointment will be sent to the Eureka Springs City Council for final approval.

The commission’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday, July 22, at The Auditorium.

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