Van Buren A&P talks numbers, seminar

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 109 views 

An increase in tax receipts and a Van Buren/Fort Smith joint educational seminar for state-elected officials on the importance of regional tourism highlighted the Wednesday (April 11) meeting of the Van Buren Advertising and Promotion (A&P) Commission.

February tax receipts of $30.935 performed well, up 11.6% from the same period in 2011. The collections were 10.4% over the budgeted amount of $28,011.81.

Year-to-date income is up as well, from $90,043.82 in 2011 to $98,202.41 through the end of March 2012.

Van Buren A&P Executive Director Maryl Koeth was encouraged by the boom.

“Part of the increase is this wonderful weather. It’s getting people moving about earlier than they normally would. With gas prices climbing, we still saw a very, very good Spring Break. I anticipate with a little caution that we will continue to see growth through the summer months, even with rising gas prices,” Koeth said.

Her reasoning is that “people are coming from closer in than they normally would. Arkansas has always been a drive-state, not a fly-into state, and I don’t anticipate a drop in that.”

Koeth continued: “Americans are pretty serious about down times and vacations, and I think we’ll continue to see that as long as the weather holds like it has.”

March ended with the A&P Commission reporting $173,967.34 in total cash assets. Liability accounts totaled $41,429.

Past due accounts as of April 6 are down to $1,268 from $1,764 at the end of February.

Once the Commission had approved financials, the talk turned to regional tourism importance. Earlier in the day, Koeth and Fort Smith A&P Executive Director Claude Legris hosted a joint seminar for state-elected officials.

“Claude and I put it together in four weeks. We wanted to get it out there now, because if we waited till November elections to educate our officials, it would be too late,” Koeth explained.

Koeth continued: “Because of term limits, education is critical to continue to see the growth we’re seeing in tourism and our work with the Arkansas River Connection. Our officials have such a short period of time to learn all they need to learn. It’s our (tourism officials) job to make sure they do.”

State Representative and Senatorial Candidate Tracy Pennartz attended the morning seminar and the A&P monthly meeting and believed Koeth and Legris “accomplished their mission.”

“A&Ps were thinking regional long before the rest of us needed to be. This presentation that both Claude and Maryl did this morning could be good for any elected official, not just those elected at the state level. We’re all tied together,” Pennartz said.

Following these reports, Koeth and A&P Commissioners also recognized their volunteers, who were honored Monday night (April 9) at the annual Van Buren A&P Volunteers Banquet.

Koeth reported that volunteers logged “around 2,100 hours” in 2011 in the program, which is now in its 19th Year of operation.

“Volunteers are not staff. We cannot afford to make them employees. They are just people, who are giving one of the most precious things we have to give, and that is their time. They are family,” Koeth said.