KIMBALL, Tenn. — The Tennessee Bass Federation's state tournament will be hosted by Kimball in late September 2014, but some city leaders aren't sure it's the right move for the town.
On Thursday, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted 4-1 to host the event on Nickajack Lake next year. Mayor David Jackson said the town will pay about $10,000 to host the tournament, and the Tennessee Bass Federation has estimated the economic impact for Kimball around $480,000.
Under the contract, the city will pay the bass federation $9,000 to bring the event to Kimball and around $1,000 -- depending on room rates -- for tournament officials' lodging.
The city could net more than $20,000 generated from sales and hotel taxes, he said.
"Our sales tax has been down for the last two or three months in a row," Jackson said. "I think we ought to take the opportunity to bring many people to town. You have to spend a little money to make money."
Alderman Mark Payne, who cast the lone no vote, said he has been struggling with the idea of hosting the tournament because he wants to see "something concrete" in return "with this amount of money."
"My hesitancy comes from the last two [tournaments] that we've done," he said. "I didn't see the financial return that I strongly expected in the beginning."
Vice Mayor Rex Pesnell said he questions the economic impact figure suggested by the fishing group.
"It's hard to get a true economic impact from something like this," he said. "You really don't know. We can speculate and guess, but it's hard to get a real reading."
Pesnell said he's heard positives and negatives from town residents about hosting fishing tournaments, but some merchants have indicated they'd be willing to help with the costs.
Jackson said city revenues have spiked after previous tournaments, but it's hard to measure the true return. Still, he said, the exposure will be good for Kimball in the long run.
"What do we do for our merchants other than fire and police protection?" he said. "We don't have to raise property taxes. We're in good financial shape. This would be a good thing to help our merchants."
"If they [fishermen] come here, they're going to spend money," Alderman Jerry Don Case said. "It's that plain and simple. I don't see why we wouldn't want to do it. It's definite revenue coming in."
Payne said city leaders will have time to work out ways of getting the $10,000 city investment, such as fundraisers or donations.
"I hope I regret the 'no' vote," he said. "I'm kind of torn. I hope it's a great success, but that's where I'm at."
Ryan Lewis is based in Marion County. Contact him at email@example.com.
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