Gorrell answers false claims about CAPC spending

Wednesday, September 1, 2004

LeRoy Gorrell, executive director of the Eureka Springs City Advertising and Promotion Commission (CAPC), took some time to answer erroneous statements made about the operation of the organization during last week's regular meeting.

Anonymous information sheets distributed during the city council's public hearing Aug. 9 on the proposed enforcement amendment to the Municipal Code that Gorrell felt needed to be answered.

"The analysis of our budget is rather unusual in this document," he began.

"For the six years before coming back to Eureka Springs, I directed a budget of a quarter of a billion dollars. Our chairman (Steve Roberson, a licensed certified public accountant in Texas) has audited schools, water districts, small cities and a variety of businesses. Sheila (Hulsey, CAPC operations manger) has audited our books for eight years. We are very careful in our process.

"There is no disturbing information about the CAPC budget or it's spending practices. This document is inflamed rhetoric by a conspiracist.

"The CAPC's budget is always low in the beginning of the year with expenses expanding as revenues expand throughout the year. We have a cash reserve of $175,000. The CAPC is in no dire trouble."

On another point, Gorrell made it clear that the city did not "bail out the CAPC with a $37,000 payment. This was the city's annual contribution toward the maintenance of the public restrooms at the auditorium from the city's budget."

What seemed to have irritated him the most was the statement regarding "questionable spending and why Gorrell was given a reimbursement check for $6,950."

"I purchased advertising during the Governor's Conference (in March) for that amount that boosted our advertising by a total of $23,953," Gorrell said.

He had reported the expenditure to the commission immediately after the conference, saying he had bought the advertising during an auction. He said then he "saw a good deal and went for it."

"If anyone would care to check out this information, what I bought was space in all of the publications on the state's list," he said last week.

"To advertise in Oklahoma City would have cost $11,800. I got it for $2,100."

He listed other publication costs "-- $6,215 and I paid $1,000; $5,800 and I paid $1,000; $4,700 and I paid $2,000, etc.

"If someone has a question...if they would just call Sheila and ask her about wasting $7,000 to save $23,000...," he said.

Gorrell has decided not to renew his contract as executive director when it expires Sept. 15.

"There is an environment within the city I can't work with," Gorrell said after the Aug. 5 workshop meeting when his decision was announced.

"Some attitudes are bad whether the economy is good or bad, and moreso when the economy is bad. It is their own responsibility to change and make things business better. If people really believe it is someone else's responsibility to make business better, then I can't go on."

Hulsey's monthly financial report on the 2 percent gross sales tax collected in June was almost a flat line -- up only a total of .1 percent.

She said lodging, restaurant and gift shop reports were all down in June. Lodging was down 4 percent, restaurants .5 percent and gift shops 7.8 percent.

For the first six months of the year, lodging is down 4.3 percent from 2003; restaurants are up 4.5 percent and gift shops are up .7 percent.

"If the businesses that are delinquent had paid their projected taxes, based on last year's numbers, we would have collected approximately $13,000 and been up 3 percent," she said.

Hulsey said the much-discussed boycott of paying the tax has not yet shown up in collections.

"The businesses that are behind are the usual ones," she said. "Some are more behind than others."

There are some business owners who have said publicly they will not collect or pay the CAPC tax until a clear definition of who is to collect is in the city's ordinance.

An ordinance amending the current Municipal Code to give the commission enforcement and appeal procedures was defeated by the city council last week after weeks of debate.

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