Flood helped wash away $19K in hotel, motel taxesPublished 12:09am Thursday, July 19, 2012
Note: The original version of this story contained an incorrect amount of lost taxes, due to reporter error. The story has been corrected below.
VIDALIA — The Concordia Economic and Industrial Development District is still feeling the economic effects of last year’s Mississippi River flood, after the high waters washed away $19,000 in occupancy revenues.
The board reviewed its financial report from the most recent fiscal year, which ended June 13, 2012, and found that the occupancy revenues totaled $71,000 — a decrease from the $90,000 it collected the previous fiscal year.
The board’s occupancy revenue is comprised of funds from hotel and motel taxes in Concordia Parish.
Director Heather Malone said the lowest numbers collected from the occupancy revenue were in the months of April, May, June and July — the months that the Vidalia Riverfront was underwater and dealt with cleanup after the flood.
“We were expecting a decrease because of the flood just because the (Comfort Suits) hotel had to shut down, do some renovations and then build their clientele back up,” Malone said. “It wasn’t a shock that we were going to be down this year.”
The occupancy revenue had been fluctuating for several years since the financial crisis in 2008, and Malone said the board was hoping for high numbers last year.
“This year would have been good, if we wouldn’t have had the flood,” Malone said. “You can’t plan for those kinds of events, so we just had to buckle down, cut some fat and take a loss.”
To cover the loss of last year’s funds, Malone said the board will cash in a $69,000 certificate of deposit to cover its operating costs.
“This is necessary, because we’re coming off the loss from last year, and several other years in the past,” Malone said. “We just want to have that cushion there.”
But with a $6.5 million, 50-acre recreation complex on U.S. 84 set to open in late fall, Vidalia Mayor Hyram Copeland said he thinks the occupancy revenue numbers will be on the rise soon enough.
“When that recreation complex opens, we hope to see additional hotels and motels in the area within the next year,” Copeland said. “We’ll have the ability to host state, district and even regional tournaments at the complex and those are going to bring in people.
“We’ve talked to several (hotel) prospects, and I think in the next year or two we’ll be able to bring in at least one hotel or possibly two.”
In other news from the meeting:
•The board went into executive session to discuss two industrial prospects that are interested in locating in Vidalia and Ferriday.
Malone said the board and respective city officials have signed confidentially agreements with the companies, so the names of the companies can’t be released.
One company is interested in building a manufacturing facility at the Vidalia Industrial Plant, but needs immediate access to a port facility.
Another company would take over the former Kelly’s Kids building on Louisiana 15 at the Ferriday Industrial Park for warehouse and distribution purposes, with plans to expand to a manufacturing facility in the future.
•The board received a $2,148 tourism grant for a cooperative marketing program with Louisiana to help promote Concordia Parish.
The grant allows tourism related advertisements in publications like travel magazines or large metro newspapers to be refunded by the state.