The Fayetteville Advertising and Promotion Commission held its regular monthly meeting at 2 p.m. Monday, Jan. 14 inside the Town Center on the downtown square.
Below is a roundup of highlights and action taken during the meeting.
Present: Bob Davis, Bill Lyle, Ching Mong, Matthew Petty, Maudie Schmitt, Justin Tennant
Matthew Petty joins commission
Ward 2 Alderman Matthew Petty was recently appointed by Mayor Lioneld Jordan to serve on the commission. He replaces outgoing alderman Bobby Ferrell who did not seek re-election to the City Council in November.
Ching Mong was appointed as the commission’s chairman for the year. Bob Davis nominated Mong for the seat and Matthew Petty seconded the motion.
The commission chose Matt Behrend, general manager at Holiday Inn Express, as its newest member. Pending City Council approval, Behrend will replace Hannah Mills who resigned in December.
Other applicants included Michael Andrews, owner of Fresco Cafe & Pub; Cyrena Hattabaugh, sales manager of Candlewood Suites; Jim Huson, owner of Doe’s Eat Place; Shellie Morrison, co-owner of The Event Group catering company; Hannah Withers, owner of Little Bread Co.; and Denise Youngblood, owner of Mojo’s Pints & Pies.
Davis and Mong suggested the group immediately narrow the list to Behrend and Hattabaugh because, like Mills, they work in the hotel industry.
“I think it is important to represent the dynamics of what we have here and that is a link that we are currently missing right now,” Mong said.
He added that with Davis and commissioner Maudie Schmitt’s terms expiring in March, there would be more opportunities for any of the remaining applicants to re-apply for a seat.
“At that time, I think we can be a little more liberal in who we choose,” said Mong.
HMR tax collections
Hotel, motel and restaurant (HMR) tax proceeds reported in November 2012 were $208,518, a 3.21 percent increase over the same month last year.
Overall 2012 collections were $2,522,008 which is a 9.68 percent increase from 2011.
Walton Arts Center request
The Walton Arts Center’s request for $8.5 million in taxpayer money to help fund a planned expansion of the center’s Dickson Street venue was put on hold to allow the commission more time to consider the issue.
WAC officials want $2 million in A&P reserves to be paid over the next two years, plus $6.5 million from an extension of voter-approved bonds used to construct the Town Center building.
Commissioners would first need to approve the $2 million in reserves and then make a formal recommendation to the City Council that the bonds be extended. A bond extension would then require council and voter approval.
Several members voiced general support for the proposal, but said giving two $1 million donations over the next two years would be “nearly impossible” considering the commission only keeps an estimated $2.4 million in reserves. The group asked director Marilyn Heifner to spend the next month examining other options to fulfill the request such as spreading the disbursements out over a longer period of time.
HMR survey decision delayed
Commissioners agreed to wait until February to vote on whether to partner with the city on a survey asking residents for ideas on how to spend HMR funds gained from a possible extension of Town Center bonds.
Davis questioned whether helping pay for a public survey with HMR funds was legal under state law, and asked that the commission seek the opinion of City Attorney Kit Williams before moving forward.
Extending the bonds, which are set to be repaid in 2015, could generate as much as $6.7 million for a tourism-related capital project. Although the Walton Arts Center is the only group to formally request the funds, several A&P commissioners have suggested using the money to help develop a planned regional park in southwest Fayetteville where the SouthPass development was to be constructed.
Beall Barclay & Company to audit commission finances
The group selected Beall Barclay & Company to provide financial audit services for the commission in 2013. The Rogers-based firm was recommended for the job last month by a five-person committee after considering four other firms who responded to a recent request for proposal advertisement.
Pay raise for Marilyn Heifner
After meeting in executive session, the group voted to increase the salary of Executive Director Marilyn Heifner by five percent in 2013, bringing her annual pay to $84,000. Heifner received the same increase last year, but commissioners voted to repeal the raise after Heifner pleaded no contest to a charge that claimed she’d violated the state’s Freedom of Information Act.