published Thursday, February 17th, 2011

Chattanooga Convention Center asks for bigger subsidy

Carter Street Corp. expects the convention business will provide nearly $372,000 too little for its books to balance, so its budget expects city, county money.

The Carter Street Corp., which oversees the Chattanooga Convention Center, approved its 2012 budget request to the city and county Wednesday, asking for $13,305 more than the previous year.

Mike Shuford, executive director of the convention center, said $5.98 million in revenues from all sources are projected for 2012, with $6.35 million in projected expenses. That leaves a $371,940 deficit, the amount the organization is requesting be subsidized by the city and county, which will split the cost.

In 2011, the Carter Street Corp. budgeted for $358,635 from the two municipalities.

Hicks Armor, treasurer of the organization, said when the budget was put together for 2012 it was "based on the most realistic scenario possible," anticipating less revenue than the previous budgeted year based on convention bookings so far.

Although budgets are tight, Shuford said he hopes the increased amount will be approved in several months when it goes before City Council. He said hotel taxes collected by the city and county more than offset the deficit amount budgeted for 2012, and since the budget was looked at line by line there isn't much room for cuts.

"We're in the service business," he said. "I could cut staff, but then it's like, we've got a banquet right now for 800 people, but if you don't have people to serve them then you're not going to get them back next year. ... It's service and people that keeps them coming back."

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