WILLCOX — City Manager Caleb Blaschke presented a PowerPoint regarding the future plan for marketing/tourism in the city to members of city council April 15 at a regular meeting. The only council member not in attendance was Paul Sheats.
The city of Willcox took over marketing/tourism two years ago after having relied on outside help in the past.
The city’s marketing/tourism budget for fiscal year 2020-21 was $152,085.
Three highlights were the State of the City dinner, Christmas Craft Fair and Lighted Parade, and capital purchases of new kitchen equipment at the Willcox Community Center.
Items still in progress for the city are additions to brochure stand (located inside city hall), community center improvements, wayfinding signage and visitor center development.
“We’re going to have some larger budget discussions in May,” Blaschke said.
Blaschke said a main purpose of his presentation was to prepare the council for those meetings in May.
Blaschke detailed how the city did a great job spending money to decorate downtown Willcox last year during the lighted Christmas trees ceremony, but a lot of businesses on or around historic Railroad Avenue didn’t receive a lighted wreath for the front of their business.
Blaschke highlighted how the success of the city’s hotel bed tax has provided needed funds during the COVID pandemic.
“Our bed tax is steadily going up,” Blaschke said. “It is 16 (percent). It was a 140,000 (in funds that we were bringing in). This past year it was almost 200,000. This year we’re spending above 200 grand (from the bed tax funds that we bring in).”
The city’s marketing budget for fiscal year 2021-22 is $190,000. $17,300 of that is projected to be spent on economic development. While $19,800 is being projected to be spent on contract services, $15,000 is projected to go to Cochise County Partnerships and $8,000 is projected to go toward brand and signage implementation.
From $3,250 projected for a recreation brochure, June through December 2021 and January through June 2022 will be the target timeframes for publication of the brochure.
For capital purchases, $22,000 is projected. About $7,5000 will be left for miscellaneous expenses.
The city also plans to spend money to replace the rack cart located inside the visitor center at City Hall, so businesses can add their advertising brochures.
Blaschke said there is a lot of interest in purchasing a projector and drop-down screen for the Community Center.
“There’s a lot of groups here and other events that are held there and they would like a screen where they can show things on,” Blaschke said. “So if we put in a screen, what we’re going to do as the city, limits of 50 to 100 dollars per use. So if you want to use the speakers at Quail Park you (have) got to pay an extra 25 to 50 dollars. You want to use the community center projector and screen you’ve got to pay the same rate. That way we have funds in the future to budget these things when they break. So we’re not coming back to the council saying we need this $12,000, while we have facility funds built-in for those types of projects.”
Blaschke wrapped up his presentation by showcasing a list of things the Planning and Zoning commission has been kicking around with him. It is a representative list that they would like to do in the city. The focus is being placed on that which is both most pressing to benefit the greatest number of Willcox residents and those visitors from the rest of Cochise County, while at the same time being cost effective.
He listed a number of items that could be improved to draw more visitors.
“Downtown Willcox improvements in the alleyways,” Blaschke said. “So art, lighting. Lighting going back and forth. Landscaping and electrical.
“Water hook ups. Railroad Park improvements. Electrical installation through there. Message boards.”
“That’s part of the street funds, but they could use it for events, too. Advertise for different events and we could use it when we have those closures. Quail Park restroom renovations. Rodeo lights. Seating.”
“Damage along Haskel Avenue. Replacing some of our billboards along the highway. Event center at Quail Park. So as you can see, the wish list is there,” he said.
“We have a lot of needs. We could start getting into some of those with the general fund dollars. Through our other budgeting process. The commission was very happy with the other things that were discussed. We had about $17,000 remaining dollars in the budget. We did a couple different ideas, but they kind of just said figure out what’s the priority.”