Leader Blues

Monday, December 29, 2008

TOP STORY > > Commission sets $810,000 budget

Leader staff writer

As the Jacksonville Advertising and Promotion Commission recently approved its 2009 budget of $810,000, it continued to see positive food and hotel tax collections trends.
After voting to cut requested amounts from the Sweet Land of Liberty Patriotic Spectacular and Keep Jacksonville Beautiful, the commission settled on a projected budget of $810,000 of which half, by ordinance, goes to the cityís parks and recreation department.
Angie Mitchell, with the Patriotic Spectacular, had asked the commission to fund the annual July fireworks and show to the tune of $25,500. In 2008, the commission gave the event $15,000 to use.
Mitchell had explained to the commissioners that the more the city gave the event, the less it took in through private and corporate donations, and with less donations, it needed more help from the city. She also told commissioners that the event wanted to increase the size, and therefore the cost, of its fireworks show. Commissioners acknowledged the importance and popularity of the event, but balked at increasing the funding by $10,000 over last year, compromising at $5,000.
The Keep Jacksonville Beautiful group had asked for $28,000 in 2009 to continue funding its landscape programs, plus to pay for sculptures and murals. The commission felt that, with the current economic outlook, it was not prudent to spend money on sculptures. Commissioner Bob Stroud, who is also a member of Keep Jacksonville Beautiful, said the group is not at a point yet to purchase sculptures or hire artists, but it was something that it wanted to do in the coming years.
The commission opted to take out the sculpture portion of the groupís funding request and approve giving Keep Jacksonville Beautiful $8,000 for 2009.
The commissionís approved 2009 budget earmarks $401,801 for the parks and recreation department, $150,000 to the Sells Agency to market and promote Jacksonville, $57,000 to the military museum, $20,000 for the Patriotic Spectacular, $15,000 for the cityís annual Wing Ding festival, $4,800 to the Reedís Bridge Historical Society for the purchase of pamphlets and signs, and $8,000 to Keep Jacksonville Beautiful.
Another $23,250 is for administrative costs, $5,600 is designated for advertising rental of the cityís billboard on Hwy. 67/167 and slightly more than $2,000 for various professional conferences and trade shows, leaving about $60,000 undesignated for various activities, events or projects that come before the commission during the year.
The commission, by ordinance, may help fund activities or events that promote Jacksonville as a place to visit or live.
At the same commission meeting, Finance Director Paul Mushrush said the two-cent prepared-foods tax, also known as the hamburger tax, continued to show strong numbers. For October, the latest figures available, city restaurants and other food outlets had a table income of $3.02 million, resulting in tax collections of $61,418.
The tax has been collected since October 2007. That month, tax receipts were at $2.89 million. Since February taxable receipts have been over $3 million each month.
Taxable receipts from the two-cent motel-room tax were $451,010 in October, resulting in tax collections of $9,020, the best October in the four-year history of the tax. That compares to tax receipts of just $291,357 in October 2007. Mushrush said the air base open house helped fill the area hotels in October.