As a part of ongoing budget discussions for the upcoming year, the Denison City Council approved proposed budgets for the Denison Development Alliance and Convention and Visitors Bureau Tuesday night. The approval of the two budgets comes as the city prepares to finalize its $24.44 million budget for the 2017-2018 fiscal year.
As a part of the presentation for its proposed $338,000 budget, Denison Area Chamber of Commerce Tourism and Marketing Director Melanie Truxal gave an update on recent tourism activity this past year. The Convention and Visitors Bureau, which is funded through the city’s hotel and motel occupancy tax, is overseen by the chamber.
“I am amazed at the efficiency and camaraderie between the different groups within the city,” Truxal said. “It is through these partnerships that our projects come to life.”
Among the new projects that have or will take place in the past year is the annual gathering of the Jefferson Highway Association and a Christian youth camp later this fall. In an effort to increase the outreach and marketing for Denison, Truxal said she has also attended state and regional events including the Southwest Showcase. During the showcase, Truxal said she helped bring together local hotel managers with meeting and event organizers.
For the next fiscal year, the chamber is projecting $338,000 in expenses. This is down from the $365,00 initially budgeted for the current fiscal year. Interim Chamber Present Shelle Cassell said the drop in expenses represents an effort to reduce office costs and expenses and a projected decrease in the city’s hotel-motel occupancy tax.
Cassell said some of these savings will be used to help finance new initiatives and projects, including a focus on digital advertising.
“I did that during my time at Grayson and had great success,” she said.
Other new initiatives include a new wine conference — an extension of the Texoma Craft Beverage Conference — and a new drone race conference, Cassell said.
The Denison Development Alliance also projected a drop in expenses during its upcoming budget. For the 2017-2018 fiscal year, the DDA is expected to have $1.75 million in expenses — a drop of more than $500,000 — as previous incentive agreements and infrastructure projects have reached their conclusion.
As the DDA is expected to see a decrease in expenses, its revenues are expected to increase from $1.76 million in 2017 to $2.03 million in 2018. This will leave the DDA with $2.58 million in reserve for future incentive projects.
Kaai said the upcoming budget does not have many new projects but will continue some ongoing focuses on middle-skills and industrial training for high school students.
“We don’t change it much,” Kaai said, referring to the budget. “We stay with what works and it has worked for all these years.”
This will include $91,400 in workforce development projects that are slated to see fruition in 2018. The largest of these expenses comes in a $65,000 item related to a partnership with Grayson College for its advanced manufacturing dual-credit program.
Of these funds, $50,000 will be provided as a part of the local match toward a $200,000 grant that will be used to outfit and equip Grayson College’s advanced manufacturing lab. This is the second year that the DDA and the Sherman Economic Development Corp. have partnered for this grant.