Restrictions put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic on short-terms rentals were lifted in June, but Van Buren still can’t reach last year’s percentages.


Lodging was 24% below last year’s percentages for August. In a previous report, it was stated that there were restrictions on who was allowed to stay in short-term rentals because of the pandemic. As of June, these restrictions were no longer in place. After the restrictions were lifted, July was only down 10% below their numbers from last year.


Prepared foods have also seen a slight decrease in their percentages in regard to last year. August was only down 1% from last year’s numbers, but July saw a 3% increase. Since February, July has been the only month with an increase.


The committee also voted to help with a Christmas tree and holiday photo-op display for Freedom Park in Van Buren. The Christmas tree will be a 30-foot lighted tree with programmable lighting. The tree will be in place on Friday after Thanksgiving.


Total cash assets as of Aug. 31, were $366,701. The financial statement for August stated that July tax receipts were 46% above the revisited monthly budgeted amount and 3.5% above last year’s statement for the same month.


Currently, the monthly A&P expenses are 59% below the revised monthly budget and monthly operating expenses are 48% below budget.


The committee decided to opt-out of a payroll tax deferral program. The program is an interest-free loan by way of fewer taxes being withheld from employee’s paychecks. The repayment of those deferred taxes due would begin on Jan. 1, 2021. The employer would be required to withhold that deferred amount and the current taxes from each paycheck.


"We have three employees and each employee stated they did not want to participate in the program," said Van Buren A&P Director Maryl Purvis.


It was also announced that the Visitors Center in Van Buren will be open on weekdays and train days without volunteer staffing. The train schedule for September will be the 12th, 19th, 26th, and 30th. The Fall Festival Trading Days and Veterans Day Parade are postponed until 2021.