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BENTONVILLE -- Visit Bentonville's 2018 budget includes money for several special events, including one with a culinary focus and others with a music focus.

Commissioners approved 5-0 the budget at their meeting Thursday. Commissioners Lee Culpepper and Chris Sooter were absent.

The budget includes $106,000 for special projects. There's $10,000 set aside for a culinary event, $30,000 for two mountain biking events, $25,000 for music events, $14,000 for other festivals and $2,200 for the Bentonville History Museum.

"Those are events I feel like will have a large economic impact for us or [bring] awareness [to us]," Kalene Griffith, Visit Bentonville president and CEO, told commissioners.

There's also $25,000 in the special projects budget to partner with Little Rock to sponsor a media event at the Food and Wine Festival in Atlanta, where local chefs will participate.

It hasn't been decided yet which chefs will attend, said Matt McClure, commissioner and executive chef at The Hive.

Having media interact with Bentonville-based chefs may bring food writers to the city, thus increasing exposure, Griffith said.

"It opens up the doors for our culinary scene," she said.

The budget includes money for Visit Bentonville to add an employee who would help with the logistics of large events such as the Bentonville Film Festival. Money earmarked for events seeking financial support was also increased from $100,000 to $130,000.

The expected revenue of nearly $2.4 million is a 1.5 percent increase over this year's, according to Griffith. The money comes from a 2 percent tax on hotel and motel rooms and a 1 percent tax on restaurants and prepared food.

Griffith also updated commissioners on the process of increasing the lodging tax from 2 to 3 percent. The commission approved the increase in November. It now has to be approved by City Council.

The 1 percent increase to the lodging tax would be about a $400,000 increase to Visit Bentonville's budget.

Griffith said she's meeting with each of the eight council members individually to give them data and information needed to make an informed decision. She still has two members to meet with.

"This is a quality of life initiative for Bentonville residents at no cost to Bentonville residents," said Chad Goss, commissioner. Goss also serves on City Council.

Commissioners and Griffith discussed how the tax increase would allow Visit Bentonville to help pay for some projects in the Parks and Recreation Plan as long as they were amenities accommodating events that brought visitors to the city.

Griffith said it could be a few more months before the tax increase goes to council for approval.

NW News on 12/08/2017

Print Headline: Visit Bentonville approves 2018 budget

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