tourism office assesses 2004; gears for 2005
enjoys a 17 percent increase
in innkeepers tax in 2004
(February 2005) The Madison Area Convention
and Visitors Bureau enters 2005 with many events and goals but still
struggles to meet its budget in these tough economic times. The CVB
board has been trying to approve its 2005 budget since October and finally
voted on one at its January meeting.
by Don Ward
some of the items
sold in the tourism gift
shop, which has been a
It did, however, get over an unexpected hurdle last fall
when it settled a dispute with the Lanier Mansion Foundation after the
foundation in September threatened to keep 10 percent of all event ticket
sales conducted on the premises of the tourism office. That would have
meant paying out as much as $1,500 of the proceeds from ticket sales
for the Madison Ribberfest alone to the foundation, and would have included
sales of tickets for the Nights Before Christmas Candlelight Tour of
The CVB board argued that its gift shop sales agreement did not include
ticket sales for its events. The agreement said the two parties would
split the cost of operating the gift shop and the cost of renting a
credit card processing machine. After a series of letters back and forth
with the foundation, the CVB board at one point was ready to move its
gift shop out of the building to avoid paying a percentage of its ticket
sales revenue. But in the end, the foundation relented.
Moving the tourism office from its previous location on Main Street
to the newly renovated building next door to the Lanier State Historic
Site on First Street in March 2003 remains as one of the most contentious
issues among local retailers. CVB officials defend the move, citing
their free rent, expanded space and improved parking, especially for
tour buses. The CVB had been paying $200 per month in rent to the Madison
Area Chamber of Commerce at its previous location at 301 E. Main St.
Also in 2004, the CVB staff changed. Tour operator Aimee Stovall left
for another job and was replaced by part-time employee Marcia Jones.
Ann Mulligan of Vevay, Ind., was hired as the part-time marketing director.
Office manager Tiffini Poling and part-time weekend assistant Dianne
Barnes are the other paid employees.
Event-wise, the Madison Ribberfest, in its third year, reported strong
ticket sales and attendance, topping the previous year. More than 11,000
were estimated when including children under 12 and vendors.
The Madison Chautau-qua enjoyed good weather and reported another outstanding
year, attendance wise, although admission is free and no official count
The Candlelight Tour, however, reported 2,667 tickets sold, compared
with 3,045 in 2003. CVB executive director Linda Lytle attributed the
decline to the fact many home tour fans had just attended the Tri-Kappa
Tour of Homes in October. We always sell fewer tickets for our
home tour in years when there is a Tri-Kappa tour.
The Tri-Kappa sorority holds its tour every other year on even years.
Tickets sales this year did top that of 2002, when 2,642 tickets were
by Don Ward
Madison Area Convention and
Visitors Bureau moved into this
newly renovated building in March 2003.
The CVB derives the majority of its operational money
from innkeepers taxes, generated by local hotels and bed and breakfasts.
It also earns proceeds from festival ticket and souvenir sales, and
money granted to it by the Jefferson County Board of Tourism, the tax
collecting entity. Last years innkeepers taxes were up 17
percent, Lytle reported. Thats considerably higher than the previous
two years of 3 and 4 percent and the minus 8 percent seen in 2001. Jefferson
County collected $218,738 in innkeepers tax in 2004, amounting to $3,645
million in gross sales. That was the highest ever, and nearly $30,000
more in tax than collected in 2000, its previously highest year.
Lytle said that increase in innkeepers tax is a measure of her
offices success but admitted that much of the increase was generated
by corporate travelers, not tourists. She used the increase to justify
a 5 percent pay raise for herself and her staff and a higher car allowance.
The staff generally receives a raise each year of between 3 percent
and 5 percent, she said. Lytle also lobbied the board to pay for the
staffs medical insurance premiums, but the board declined, staying
with the current payment of 10 percent of their premiums.
The boards employee benefits cost this year will
increase by nearly $4,000 by taking on the partial coverage of insurance
premiums for the two two part-time employees.
Other changes for this year include some new members to the CVB board
itself. The nine-member board consists of appointments representing
various governmental and nonprofit agencies. But for more than a year
now, the board has never filled all of its vacancies. The Madison-Jefferson
County Economic Development Corp (MIDCOR) still has yet to designate
its appointee for 2005. New appointments for 2005 include Bev Ford,
representing the Madison Area Chamber of Commerce, and Lucy Dattilo,
an at large appointee.
The board generally meets at 5:30 p.m. on the second Wednesday of each
month, however, this months meeting has been moved to 4 p.m. on
Feb. 8. The public is welcome.
Back to February 2005