VCVB assets soar 51%, audit shows|[06/27/08]

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 27, 2008

The Vicksburg Convention and Visitors Bureau saw a net increase of $263,868 in assets in 2007 – a 51 percent increase from 2006 – according to an annual audit released Thursday.

“You got an ‘A,”‘ said Ken Halford, owner of Vicksburg-based The Halford Firm, at the VCVB meeting Thursday. “You’re light years from where you were 18 months ago, when there were some real issues.”

The 1 percent sales tax revenue the VCVB receives from all restaurant and hotel sales in the county accounted for 93 percent of the bureau’s total revenue last year. Advertising sales generated by the Vicksburg Visitor’s Guide accounted for 2.4 percent of total revenue. The bureau had $868,213 in operating expenses in 2007, with $1,086,703 in operating revenues to cover its activities – meaning the VCVB was $218,490 in the black last year.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

VCVB Executive Director Bill Seratt said the positive bank statements are necessary, as the bureau plans to remodel its Clay Street visitors’ center and its Web site before 2009.

“By the end of the year those funds will be substantially depleted,” he told the board.

Seratt said foundation work is needed on the Clay Street complex, as well as re-siding the building, replacing doors and adding more landscaping on the property. Expanding a small, adjoining storage building is also being considered. Bids for construction are expected to go out within 30 days. Seratt estimated the board could spend from $50,000 to $75,000 on the renovations. The budget has $60,000 earmarked for the project.

The bureau also plans to hire a professional Web site design company to overhaul its Internet presence by year’s end, said Seratt, although he would not estimate how much money the project will cost.

Earlier this year, the VCVB sold its former administrative headquarters on Washington Street at a profit of roughly $100,000, and paid off a $204,130 mortgage note on the building. The city granted a request earlier this year for the VCVB to operate its administrative office in a building behind the visitors’ center on Clay Street through July 2009.

The 2007 audit also found a lack of total VCVB employees as well as a limited segregation of employee duties creates a control deficiency in which financial misstatements may not be detected or prevented. However, Halford told the board those findings are common in audits of small bureaus, such as the VCVB.

“Based on the cost-benefit of additional personnel, it may not be feasible to achieve complete segregation of duties,” reads the audit.

Halford said he hopes to have the 2008 audit available to the VCVB board earlier next year and is aiming for a February completion.

Thursday the VCVB board also approved:

Spending $1,500 for the Independence Day fireworks and waterfront concert in Vicksburg.

Closing a money market account with a balance of $1,571.34, and transferring the balance to an existing account.