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EL DORADO -- The El Dorado Advertising and Promotion Commission finished out 2018 with a nearly $27,000 increase in lodging tax revenue.

The revenue is used in part to help organizations in this south Arkansas city to present and promote events such as the annual MusicFest in the Murphy Arts District, which attracts concertgoers from outside the state.

The commission draws its revenue from a 3 percent sales tax for local hotels and motels. The gross receipts of those hotels and motels rose by nearly $1 million last year.

According to an Advertising and Promotion Commission financial report, Candlewood Suites, which celebrated its grand opening in February 2018, racked up nearly $2.2 million in gross receipts, the most that was reported by the then-11 lodging establishments in the city.

Total gross receipts for local hotels and motels came to $11.5 million in 2018, compared with nearly $10.6 million in 2017.

The boost in gross receipts for lodging properties meant a boost in revenue for the commission in 2019.

The commission took in $345,473 in 2018, representing an increase of $26,649 over the 2017 take.

Commissioners welcomed the news as they convened in January to set the 2019 budget and to sort through requests for proposals from various groups that put on events such as concerts or fairs.

For the past three years, commissioners have set conservative budgets as revenues dropped.

In 2016, revenues came in at $353,293.75, compared with $381,471.90 in 2015.

Income fell even further in 2017 when commissioners set a $277,000 budget, with $146,500 designated for funding requests from 11 groups.

Commissioners faced yet another drop in income last year.

The 2018 budget totaled $260,000 and nine groups shared $140,000.

Commissioners have said they hope turnaround is sustainable, adding that they are encouraged by the opening of the new Fairfield Inn and Suites by Marriott in January.

Also, plans were recently announced for a boutique hotel. The project is under development by Newmark Moses Tucker Partners of Little Rock, with a locally based ownership group.

Called The Haywood, the hotel is scheduled to be completed by mid-2020 and will become a part of the Murphy Arts District entertainment complex.

With Advertising and Promotion Commission numbers trending upward in 2018, commissioners were able to make some adjustments to line items in the 2019 budget, including an increase in groups that requested funding to help advertise and promote local events this year. The commission divvied up $160,000, $20,000 more than last year.

Per a recommendation by A&P treasurer Sanjay Patel, the commission also raised the non-designated line item from $15,000 in 2018 to $20,000 this year.

Patel noted that funds to groups are doled out early in the year, and the non-designated budget can help with unexpected opportunities that may arise later in the year.

Earlier last week, commissioners were approached with one such proposal and they voted to dip into the non-designated line item to fulfill a $2,000 request from the Main Street El Dorado organization.

The money will be used to help promote an upcoming concert, featuring contemporary Christian music group Big Daddy Weave, at the El Dorado Municipal Auditorium.

The Murphy Arts District was awarded more than half of the $160,000 request-for-proposals budget set by the commission.

Like the Main Street organization, the district will also use the money -- $85,000 -- to promote multiple events for the year, including MusicFest XXXII, which is set for Sept. 27 and 28.

Metro on 02/11/2019

Print Headline: El Dorado lodging tax revenue up after 3-year fall

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