The 2 percent lodging tax increase for hotel stays has boosted revenues over 15 percent for the Van Buren Advertising and Promotion Commission, but it is not as much as expected.
The Van Buren A&P’s budget called for a 24.3 percent increase in tax receipts for January.
Meryl Koeth, executive director of the Van Buren A&P Commission, pointed out recently the actual increase in tax receipts is due to the additional 2 percent in lodging taxes approved by the Van Buren City Council in November.
According to the latest financial report, at $45,220, the January tax receipts were 15.7 percent above January 2016, but were 8.6 percent below the monthly budgeted amount. Total cash assets as of Feb. 28 for the A&P were $237,259.
Koeth said she will have a better grasp of the A&P’s monetary situation next month after March numbers are in. However, she recalled a dip in January tax receipt projections in 2009 during another transition in presidents.
As of Feb. 28, year-to-date tax revenue is 4.4 percent below budget and 9 percent above the same period in 2016. Lodging is 74.78 percent above, due to the 2 percent tax increase, and restaurants are about 4.5 percent below the same period last year. Convenience store and deli tax receipts are 15.5 percent above the same period last year, the A&P’s financial report states.
Without a quorum for the March meeting, A&P commissioners were unable to take a vote on the contract being developed with Van Buren Original, a nonprofit downtown catalyst group, for a paid events planner position. The contract is expected to be discussed at the next meeting in April. The A&P meets at 4:30 p.m. on the third Wednesday of each month at the Van Buren Municipal Complex.
The Van Buren City Council in November unanimously approved the 2 percent increase in the city’s tax on hotels and motels to 3 percent to provide more funds for improving downtown Van Buren. The increase is expected to provide about $110,000 annually in additional revenue. In addition to a possible contract with Van Buren Original, the additional funding will help offset the A&P’s new trolley bus expenses. The trolley, purchased for about $144,000, began operation in April 2016.
Since the fourth quarter of 2015, revenues from restaurants, lodgings and convenience stores have seen steady increases in Van Buren thanks to several new establishments like Casey’s General Store, Colton’s Steakhouse, Oliver’s Southern Cuisine downtown and a Starbucks, Koeth said.