SPRINGDALE -- The city's Advertising and Promotion Commission authorized the use of reserve money if needed in its 2021 budget, the first time it's taken such a step in at least 22 years.
The covid-19 pandemic sharply curtailed tourism to the city and events the commission helps support such as arts festivals. Revenue from the city's tax on hotels and motels is down and expected to remain down for months, commission members said. They hope events will pick up later in the year as vaccinations become more widespread and the pandemic eases.
Having lower revenue to start with, but the prospect of events later this year prompted the commission to approve a budget where up to $50,000 of the commission's $96,320 reserve is available if needed.
"My goal is not to use reserves," said Bill Rogers, president of the Springdale Chamber of Commerce. The promotion commission contracts with the chamber to conduct its operations. Those operations include advertising campaigns and awarding of grants to community events. If an event is canceled, the grant it applied for this year will be canceled, too, Rogers said.
The commission bases its projection of visitors picking up in the spring and summer on information received from the state's Parks and Tourism Department, said both Rogers and commission Chairman Jayson Janda.
The commission expected $518,000 in revenue last year, before the pandemic hit. Instead $290,094 came in. That figure includes earned interest. This year's revenue projection is for $423,000.
The state law authorizing cities to set up advertising and promotion commissions passed in 1965 and Springdale adopted one that year, Rogers said. He and Janda said this year's budget is the first to include a provision for spending from reserve to their knowledge.
"I can say for sure it's not happened before in the 22 years I've been here, not even during the recession" of 2007 to 2009, he said.