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Tourist Commission Approves $1.2 Million Budget

File image: Diamond Point Welcome Center.

Robert Moore
Herald Staff

The Harrodsburg-Mercer County Tourist Commission has approved a new $1.2 million budget for the 2023-2024 fiscal year, which begins July 1.

The budget projects revenues in the next fiscal year of more than $1.2 million, with $800,000 coming from the restaurant tax collected by the tourist commission, as well as $120,000 from the hotel tax, $239,550 in carryover funds from the previous fiscal year as well as other sources of income.

Bob Gigliotti, the treasurer for the tourist commission, said the income projections are based on assumptions on income through the year, including a $100,000 increase in the restaurant tax and a $9,000 increase in the hotel tax over the year before.

The budget, which is balanced, projects expenses of more than $1.2 million in the year to come, with most of the money—$934,900—being spent in marketing.

That includes nearly $600,000 in sponsorships and grants. Some of the biggest beneficiaries including Anderson-Dean Community Park, which is set to receive $150,000 in quarterly payments; the 250th Celebration, which is set to receive $130,000; and the Harrodsburg First Main Street Program, which is set to receive $106,000, including $54,000 for Oktoberfest, $40,000 to the agency, $7,000 for the Christmas committee and $5,000 for the downtown flower project.

Gigliotti said over all, allocations had increased up to 17 percent for nearly everyone compared to last year. However, almost everyone requested more money, he said. In total, the tourist commission received requests for $672,390, including seven brand new requests.

“That is a dramatic and I mean astronomical increase in giving.” said Tim Kazimer, chairman of the tourist commission board of directors. “It’s a big number.”

Tia King-Taylor said she was struggling with a $25,000 grant to Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill. King-Taylor said last year the tourist commission declined to fully grant the funds requested by the Mercer County Chamber of Commerce because it was a private entity, but they had agreed to grant funds to Shaker Village.

Kazimer said they tourist commission has declined to pay for infrastructure and payroll. The Shaker Village money is for marketing seven signature events over the next year, which Shaker Village hopes to draw visitors from Louisville, Lexington and Cincinnati.

“You have to make a distinction between a private business and someone like Shaker Village,” said Kazimer, noting the village is a nonprofit organization. He noted the chamber is receiving funding for events, including $23,000 for Pioneer Days, $35,000 for the Kentucky Heritage Jazz Festival, $1,000 for the spring block party and $2,500 for Small Business Saturday.

Board member David Coleman asked for a budget for each event at Shaker Village.

“I think a breakdown is a reasonable request,” Kazimer said. He said they need to get more information.

King-Taylor said she was opposed to funding for Shaker Village. She asked if it was a one time thing or if they would expect a 17 percent increase every year.

In addition to serving as treasurer for the tourist commission, Gigliotti also serves as chief operating officer at Shaker Village. Gigliotti said he couldn’t say for next year.

“It is purely a marketing ask,” said Gigliotti. “We’re trying to bring in more tourists.”

Kazimer said there is no 100 percent satisfaction guaranteed way to please everyone. He called the budget a give and take process.

Board member Tiffany Yeast moved to accept the budget. In a roll call vote, the budget passes, with King-Taylor voting no.

The next meeting of the Harrodsburg-Mercer County Tourist Commission will be Wednesday, June 14, at 9 a.m.

For the rest of the story, check out this week’s issue of the Harrodsburg Herald. Click here to subscribe.

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