Tourism commission amends budget

By Paige Nash

The Webster Parish Convention and Visitors Commission (WPCVC) met Monday afternoon, Oct. 30, to discuss the proposed budget for the upcoming year. 

“The state law requires us to amend our budget to line up with what we have actually spent this year,” Commissioner Ty Pendergrass explained. 

WPCVC Director Serena Gray said the numbers look really clean.

“This year luckily there is not a deficit because we didn’t buy another 11-acre piece of property,” Gray said. “After looking at what we would amend the budget to by the end of the year, based on projections, we would actually be in a surplus of approximately $6,000.” 

The only project that went over budget was Miller Quarters Park. 

Although this is only a draft, the amended budget for the Miller Quarters line item reflects a total of $81,000.

“The reason I put that there was because we will be reviewing a contract for Parish Line Architecture and their contract is $40,000,” said Gray. “The only thing required this year is a 15 percent retainer fee; beyond that we will be billed monthly based on the work they do up to $35,000 and that can be stretched out as far as we need it to.” 

If the contract is approved by the board, Parish Line Architecture will be completing the next steps in the Miller Quarters Master Plan provided by students from Louisiana Tech last quarter, including a design plan, phases, cost analysis, topography and landscaping.  

“This is going to help us provide another piece to the community that allows us to move forward with transparency,” said Gray. “They are going to give us all the details we need to answer the questions.” 

Pendergrass is hopeful the commission will have corporate partners interested in curving some of the total costs for the completion of the project. 

The commission has also been working with another set of graphic design students from Tech that will be focusing on branding for the park including signage, social media presence, letterheads and more.  

Other items mentioned during the workshop included the remainder of American Rescue Plan Act funds initially received to provide relief during the pandemic. The commission has utilized $35,000 of the total $60,000 distributed.  

According to Gray, the remaining funds will transfer to next year. A portion of those funds are designated to be used on another kayak dock to possibly be placed along the bayou in the Springhill area if a clear route can be established.

Local occupancy tax still serves as a main source of income for the tourism commission, and they are projecting to receive $240,000 from that in the upcoming year.  

The board will convene again November 15 at the Springhill Chamber to vote on the budget, architect’s contract as well as Gray’s contract as director.