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story.lead_photo.caption NWA Democrat-Gazette/DAVID GOTTSCHALK Ornaments are visible in David Wright's beard as he sings along Thursday with Shaky Bugs and guests during the Winter Solstice Art Action at the Walker Stone House in Fayetteville. The event, presented by Experience Fayetteville, the city's tourism bureau, featured room-to-room performances, crafts, local food and drink and interactive activities.

FAYETTEVILLE -- City tourism officials will manage capital projects, start thinking about a reserve fund and try to bring in more dollars at the Town Center next year.

The Advertising and Promotion Commission this week passed a nearly $4.4 million budget for 2018. It marked a slight increase from last year's $4.2 million budget, anticipating about a 4.5 percent increase in overall revenue.

By the numbers

The A&P Commission passed its 2018 budget on Monday.

Revenue

• Experience Fayetteville: $3,570,155

• Town Center: $792,867

• Clinton House Museum: $35,700

• Total: $4,398,722

Expenses

• Experience Fayetteville: $3,163,084

• Town Center: $794,897

• Clinton House Museum: $226,368

• Total: $4,398,722

Source: Fayetteville A&P Commission

The commission gets most of its money from a split of the city's 2 percent hotel, motel and restaurant sales tax. The other half goes to parks. The 2018 budget includes more than $3.4 million in revenue from the tax, up about 2.6 percent from the previous year.

Executive Director Molly Rawn made it a priority to create a capital improvement projects fund, develop a strategy to manage those projects and put money in a reserve. The commission previously has moved surplus money around but never defined a threshold for those endeavors, she said.

Planning will be key, Rawn said. The capital projects fund will start off with a little more than $103,000 in it, and what to set aside as backup will be figured out later, she said.

"Until we know what we're wanting to do, and what our goals are, it's hard for me to advise you on how big of a fund or how much we should leave in capital reserves," she told the commission Monday.

Chief among endeavors will be what to do with the historic Walker-Stone House, which the commission bought in summer 2016 for $750,000. Rawn came aboard as director a few months after the purchase.

Certain work will have to be done at the house regardless of what the commission decides to do with it, architect Aaron Ruby said. Ruby's firm, Allison+Partners, was selected to assess the 170-year-old building.

Efforts have begun to replace the air-conditioning system. After that, the roof will need to be replaced, the windows will require some attention, more power likely will have to flow through the building and certain Americans with Disabilities Act measures, such as a ramp and accessible bathrooms, are needed.

The budget calls for about $200,000 in repair, maintenance and improvements to the house. Ruby said he thinks the work could be completed by the end of next year.

The commission at one point discussed moving the tourism bureau, Experience Fayetteville, to the home, but scrapped the plan after Rawn took on her role. Any further work depends on the use of the structure, Ruby said.

"We haven't yet had that discussion. I think the board itself needs to agree on what it is they really want to do with it," he said. "It's not going to be me or a contractor that will determine how quickly it can be done."

Blaine and Leah Horton, a recently married couple who moved to Fayetteville from Texas this past year, toured the Walker-Stone House during Experience Fayetteville's winter solstice art event Thursday.

The two had never gone inside before. They first took notice of it during the Green Candy art event in the summer, which brought artists from around the world to the city to paint murals and create sculptures.

Two giant clashing deer made of trash sit on the lawn at Walker-Stone. They're kind of hard to miss. Also, Leah Horton said she saw the event on Experience Fayetteville's Instagram account.

The house, and the push for art in general, vibes well with the community, they said. The couple even handed out maps to out-of-town wedding guests showing where the various murals and projects are.

"It brings an intimacy to the city," Blaine Horton said.

The commission also expects about a 25 percent increase in Town Center revenue over the previous year, with just more than $792,000. A center manager, Jordan Garcia, was hired this year, as well as a director of sales, Tina Archer.

Jordan said his team has worked on ways to generate revenue at the center and to cut expenses. For example, alcohol pricing has changed and inventory was reduced to prevent over-ordering. Rental prices also have been adjusted.

NWA Democrat-Gazette/DAVID GOTTSCHALK Ashley Rogers (right) dances Thursday with Sydney Foster and her daughters Maiya (left), 5, and Lily, 7, in a silent disco during the Winter Solstice Art Action at the Walker Stone House in Fayetteville.

NW News on 12/22/2017

Print Headline: Tourism body thinking strategically

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