Editor's Note: This version corrects an earlier version that misstated the amount of time recommended for reduced discretionary spending.
Pine Bluff Advertising & Tourist Promotion Commission Chairman William Moss has recommended reducing discretionary spending for the months of October through December based upon actual spending from January to September after a tax collection shortfall.
Moss spoke Monday at a Finance Committee meeting while reviewing the 2017 income statement for the months of January through September. He met with Pine Bluff Alderman Glen Brown Jr. and Civic Auditorium and Complex Commission member Lisa Kosmitis. La'Tasha Woods is also a member of the Finance Committee and was absent.
The A&P Commission budgeted $1,650,000 in 2017 for the 2 percent tax on the sale of prepared foods, which is colloquially known as the hamburger tax. The budget for this tax receipt for the months of January to September is $1,236,000, while the actual money generated through this tax is $1,174,502 for this period. That is a negative variance of $61,498 year to date.
Moss said the commission is giving money to the private nonprofit Hestand Stadium and using other money to advertise Hestand Stadium events. He said Hestand Stadium should use its own money to promote its events.
In a related discussion, Moss said he has requested Hestand Stadium people provide an itemized breakdown on expenditures and that he is awaiting a response. The Advertising & Tourist Promotion Commission and the Civic Auditorium and Complex Commission oversee the operations of the Pine Bluff Convention Center. Commissioners are appointed by the mayor and approved by the city council. Moss, Brown and Kosmitis reviewed the financial report.
“I would not be spending money like we are,” Moss said.
Alderman Steven Mays recommended the Convention Center host more events to generate increased revenue. Mays is not a member of either the A&P Commission or the Civic Auditorium and Complex Commission.
Convention Center Interim Executive Director Sheri Storie responded that using the convention center to host events costs money to operate the building. She said some events do not attract many people and she strives to host events that attract enough people so as to generate revenue that offsets expenditures. Storie said that she does not know of any convention center that generates enough money through hosting events to pay its employees and to operate the building.
In other news, Storie said the promoter of a cancelled concert paid its money to the convention center in its entirety. She said the Memphis Flea Market came to the Pine Bluff Convention Center in September, liked the venue, and will return on Saturday, Oct. 28.