MAMMOTH SPRING -- Mammoth Spring Mayor Jean Pace said the first eight months of this year the city and county sales tax collected in the city has been more than in any time period in the past. "Our advertising the city has definitely brought more tourists here," she said.
This is the third year the city of Mammoth Spring has collected an advertising and promotions tax.
The Mammoth Spring City Council passed an ordinance in 2003 that allows the city to collect the tax only from businesses that promote tourism in the city.
The advertising and promotions tax was established by the Arkansas Legislature in 1993. The law allows cities that pass the tax to collect up to 3 percent on each dollar spent at businesses that promote tourism.
Mammoth Spring Mayor Jean Pace said in 2003, when the council first discussed the tax, that she had gone to the tourism businesses in the city to see what they thought an acceptable tax would be. "Some of the business owners thought a 1-percent tax would be all right. The council voted to make the tax 1/2 percent on $1 and we began collecting it in 2003," Pace said.
The mayor said the tax generates an average of $1,700 a month.
A commission determines how the money is spent. "State law tells us what we have to do regarding the tax, and appointing a commission is one of the criteria needed," she said.
Commission members are Jim Mills, Amy Wood, Bubba Smith, Bonnie Gildersleve, Paula Smith, Carol Howell, Bill Pace and Joan Baker.
"The commission is made up of people from the tourism industry in our town as well as one council member and two at-large members. They decide how the tax revenue will be spent," Pace said.
The mayor said there are currently 16 businesses in Mammoth Spring that collect the tax.
Pace said the revenue generated by the tax can be spent only on promoting tourism in the city. "The past three years I think the commission has used the tax money wisely," she said.
Some of the things the tax money has been spent on include advertising the city on national television as well as KAIT in Jonesboro, advertising the city in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, the Springfield News Leader, Arkansas Bikers Magazine, Arkansas Antiques Magazine and the Town and Country Shopper. The commission has purchased new benches for city sidewalks, cigarette butt containers for the streets, new Christmas decorations and two new welcome signs.
"Tourism is the largest industry we have in Mammoth Spring and we need to build on that industry," she said.