CAPC proposed budget rejected at workshop

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

EUREKA SPRINGS -- Newly-elected chair Joanne Graupner took the reins of the City Advertising and Promotion Commission firmly at last week's budget meeting when she rejected the proposed budget submitted by CAPC Director Jim Williams.

Although the commission had questions about certain line items, Graupner said the budget was not detailed enough. She suggested it be lined out in a fashion similar to a budget created by the CAPC in 2003, which spelled out everything in detail.

Commissioners agreed, saying it was hard to say yes to workers' salaries without complete job descriptions. The proposed combined salaries total $247,000 for 2011. Commissioners also questioned a cost-of-living increase for the coming year.

The line item for auditorium expenses reignited the debate about whether or not the city should take over management of the facility, and while there was some consensus about the CAPC keeping the Aud for one more year, its future seems seriously in doubt if it does not begin to bring money in to balance the cost of maintaining it.

Commissioner Joyce Zeller suggested a feasibility study that would explore possible uses and financial outcomes for the Aud, to see if it is in the CAPC's interest to maintain it. She was opposed to a renewed Aud commission, and said she would rather see "a hand-selected committee composed of people who are passionate about the Aud and have the experience to do the study."

Newly-appointed commissioner Joe Joy said he was not sure tapping CAPC money for the Aud was the right thing to do, adding, "Maybe we could pay the manager, and then use the rest of the money to bring tourist money into Eureka Springs."

Williams noted the mission statement of CAPC is to bring tourism into town, and since studies showed recent concerts primarily brought people from an hour away who did not sleep or eat here, the Aud was not helping tourism. As such, supporting it does not fit the mission statement.

One idea floated to keep the Aud going was a one-quarter percent addition to sales tax designated for Aud support. Residents would have to vote on the issue.

The advertising budget is also in flux, as commissioners lean towards pulling some print advertising and expanding web advertising. Graupner and Zeller recommended a more targeted approach to print ads, suggesting ads be placed in niche magazines to sell Eureka Springs to such consumer segments as the bridal community and outdoorsmen.

These ads would replace, at least in part, more generalized ads now in print. Zeller also said since much of the tourist demographic is the boomer crowd, it might be useful to advertise in Branson's marketing materials, since that is a known destination for the age group.

"The wedding market is dribbling away from us," Rick Bright, also a new appointee, said.

"Print media is dying," Graupner said. "The 40 percent allotted for print media is too high, and the eight percent for web is too low." She added the new website should be up and running by February, but the date was not definite.

The Downtown Network asked for CAPC funding for Christmas events, and also invited the CAPC to become a member, at the cost of a $2,500 membership, according to Williams. Commissioners discussed that supporting the network, despite "the great work they're doing downtown," might create problems down the road, with other small networks forming and expecting money if the CAPC agrees.

However, Downtown Network events could be promoted by the CAPC, commissioner Beverly Blankenship said.

"We'd be better off being the advertising and promotion arm for their events," Bright added.

Williams told commissioners the Senior September promotion was very successful, with ads that drove tourists to the Eureka Springs website where they could find coupons and offers, and said he'd like to see more promotions like that.

The budget, which must be presented to council, will be discussed further at the November meeting. Williams said he would have a more detailed budget for the commission soon.

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