Council approves tourism budget with no controversy

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Increase funding proposed for marketing, decrease in investments

It's been a year since the Lebanon City Council discussed eliminating the primary funding source for the Lebanon Tourist and Convention Commission. Council members had a few questions related to the commission's proposed 2012-13 budget, but overall, the discussions were not contentious.

At its June 11 meeting, the council unanimously approved the proposed tourism budget.

The proposed tourism budget projects $607,975 in total revenue for the 2012-13 fiscal year, an increase over the projected revenue of $584,732 for the 2011-12 fiscal year.

The commission is anticipating $537,100 in expenditures for the 2012-13 fiscal year, which is an increase over the projected expenditures of $487,404 for the 2011-12 fiscal year.

"We are going to put a lot into marketing and development this year," Tourist Executive Director Nicky Reynolds said.

The budget includes $100,000 for media advertising and $14,285 in matching funds from the state tourism office, which Reynolds said will also be put back into media advertising.

The 2012-13 budget also includes $35,200 for brochures, displays and stationary. This is an increase over the $10,000 in this area in the current fiscal year. Reynolds said the tourism office is running out of some of its brochures and it needs to print some additional brochures about different aspects of local tourism.

Councilwoman Kate Palagi asked if the new brochures would only be used this year or if they would be used into the future. Reynolds said they will definitely be used in the future. She added that they also need some niche marketing, such as for adventure tourism and motorcycle groups.

Reynolds added that the commission's budget includes $9,000 for a redesigned website, which they hope to unveil soon, and the tourism also added $10,000 specifically for public relations in the 2012-13 budget.

"It has been proven with research that advertising plus public relations is more effective than just one or the other alone," Reynolds said.

Palagi had another question about the decrease in the investments spending. The proposed tourism budget shows a decrease in the amount budgeted for investments from $100,000 in 2011-12 to $49,300 in 2012-13.

She asked what the $100,000 was used for last year.

Reynolds said the commission has used its investment fund previously to assist with improvements in Angelic Hall.

"So this isn't the investment for the events?" Palagi asked.

"Well, yes and no," Reynolds replied.

She explained that the commission has been moving away from handing people money to start an event and moving toward assisting with marketing to encourage visitors for those events. Some of the investment money has been shifted into advertising on television, radio and social media to help market those events.

Reynolds added that people can still request money, but they will need to present a solid business plan as part of their proposal. In the past, she said some requesters had come to the commission with good ideas for events. She said the commission has spent a lot of money in the past trying to help events get started, but many of those events no longer exist.

Councilman Jay Grundy added that he was excited to see the $150,000 in the tourism budget set aside for a bricks and mortar project.

"Do you have any future plans for that?" Grundy asked.

Reynolds said she is reading through the destination marketing plan prepared by Roger Brooks a few years ago for the commission. She added that the commission needs to raise a certain amount of money before it can pursue a bricks and mortar project down the road.

In other business:

- The council approved the proposed 2012-13 budget for Lebanon Water Works. The budget includes projections of $2.14 million in revenues and $1.46 million in expenditures.

-  The city approved a request from Troy Mattingly to hold a road block fund-raiser for scholarships for The Way to Recovery, an addiction treatment program. The road block is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 15.

Councilman Grundy said he would like to get a report later on how many people benefited from the scholarships and the program.

- The council approved bids for fuel, bituminous concrete surface and concrete for the 2012-13 fiscal year.

The only fuel bid was from D and R Oil Company, which proposed per gallon prices $3.349 for regular fuel, $3.849 for premium fuel, $3.699 for diesel fuel #1 and $3.699 for diesel fuel #2. Prices do not include state and federal taxes.

Nally and Hayden Surfacing submitted the only bid for bituminous concrete surface of $80.95 per ton for class I surface laid in place and $62.50 per ton for class II from the plant, although prices are subject to change, according to state specifications.

The council approved IMI's bid for concrete, which included prices from $73 per cubic yard of 3500 mix to $79.50 per cubic yard of 4000 6A performance gravel. IMI's bid was lower than the bid from Taylor Green Ready Mix Company.

- The council also approved the reappointment of Brad Lanham and Dennis George to the Lebanon Tourist and Convention Commission for terms expiring June 30, 2015.

Special-called meeting

The Lebanon City Council also held a special-called meeting June 14, during which a quorum of the council heard liability insurance proposals from the Kentucky League of Cities and One Beacon 'insurance. The KLC is the city's current insurance provider.

Council members Jay Grundy and Darrin Spalding and Mayor Gary Crenshaw were not present for the meeting. Councilwoman Denise Fogle served as mayor pro tem during the meeting.

No decision was made about the insurance proposals last week.

Charles Lancaster Jr. presented the KLC proposal, which included an annual premium of $101,994 but no deductibles on many claims.

John Kernohan and Kyle Shrewsbury presented the proposal from OneBeacon, which included a premium of $85,386 with $5,000 deductibles.

Lancaster also reminded the council that he is the local agent for the KLC policy and that he pays city taxes, and that the KLC provides a variety of services to the city aside from insurance coverage.

Kernohan said they are a Kentucky-based company with headquarters in Louisville. He added that they do have some business connections to Lebanon.

Other differences between the plans included pay limits on occurrences and aggregate limits.

The OneBeacon proposal did not include earthquake and flood insurance, however, that was not part of the city's request for proposals.

The council postponed a decision to review the plans and to allow One Beacon to revise its proposal to include earthquake and flood insurance.

Also during the June 14 meeting, the city council approved three related annexations and zoning classifications. All three tracts are part of the proposed Hardins Creek Subdivision, which will be located north of the Marion County Veterans Memorial Highway (a.k.a. The Lebanon bypass).

Tract I includes 50.011 acres and was classified as R-1, which is residential property. Tract II, which contains 17.044 acres, was classified as B-2, and tract III, which contains 6.291 acres, was designated B-3. B-2 and B-3 are both business properties, but B-3 is for larger businesses, such as a box store.