Jackson City Council approves bailout for Convention Center but could face budget shortage

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Earlier this year the Jackson Convention Center claimed it was unable to make payroll and take care of its facility unless it was bailed out.

Tuesday night the Jackson City Council voted yes to send emergency funds to the facility till the end of September.

There were some heated moments between council members feeling Jackson taxpayers were taking on an unnecessary burden sending money for the convention staff, but even after this notion passed it shows both sides have a long way to go handling finances.

“I’ve been here thirty years, I was here when they started it, and I was there when they cut the ribbon and I haven’t heard a damn thing,” Councilman Kenneth Stokes argued as the issue was brought to the floor.

Showing frustration Councilman Stokes shared his issues with Jackson Convention executives feeling the board should fix their rates to suit locals to get more financially stable.

“Have as many activities as you can have by dropping the price,” Councilman Stokes stated. “It’s not doing us any good that nobody utilizes.”

“The reality is that Jackson is short on money,” Councilman Ashby Foote said. “And one of the things is that really concerns me in your presentation on a current status you immediately need $63,000 but then in ongoing needs you’ve got $67,000 per month.”

Though significantly lower than the original $131,000 needed thanks to recent convention customers paying their bills, an extra $67,000 in ongoing monthly needs can be costly to Jackson taxpayers. Even if only temporarily.

“There is a time frame in which the operations are going to be as they are,” SMG Regional General Manager Kelvin Moore told us. “We’ve estimated based on where the sales taxes are and the operating subsides are it would require $67,000 a month to fund that.”

The convention commission pointed to how we got here with a lack of activities centered around the convention center to attract more people, and no main hotel to attract bigger conventions resulting in a lack of expected revenue.

“So the event mix has resulted in fewer conventions and trade shows and more dependence on things like consumer shows, entertainment events, banquets, and local meetings,” Moore continued. “The resulting finances of that are the sales tax revenue was much lower than the original projections and the operating subsidies was much higher than the original projections.”

Convention board members also agreed to look into reforming their prices to fit more consumer candidates in Jackson. More meetings are to come soon with the Mayor to prevent more bailouts next month.

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