City Council heard from City Manager Andrew Trivette and the organizers of the William and Mary Global Film Festival at its April 8 work session.
Last year, City Council awarded $25,000 to William and Mary Global Film Festival producers AVAdventure from the city’s Tourism Promotion Contingency Fund. That fund was established by council in 2015 to support projects and activities that were expected to increase repeat overnight visitation, according to the agenda item summary.
Adam Stackhouse and Liz Sykes, the festival’s producers, said the event was successful not only in terms of ticket sales, but also in attracting overnight visitors from around the state.
In a presentation to council, Sykes and Stackhouse said $17,000 was spent on marketing materials, including advertisements in local and regional print and digital publications as well as social media promotion. The remaining $8,000 went toward programming costs, which included screening and venue rental fees.
This year’s Global Film Festival had a 787-person increase in total attendance over last year, Sykes said. She said the city’s grant allowed organizers to increase the event’s marketing reach considerably.
“It increased our budget from $3,200 to $17,000, which was a huge jump and allowed us to do a marketing campaign on a scale that we have not been able to do before,” she said. “The increase in our marketing campaign helped us to make more progress toward our goal of making the festival a destination event for tourists.”
Through partnerships with the Williamsburg Hotel and Motel Association and the Williamsburg Area Restaurant Association, several area hotels and restaurants offered discounted rates and other promotions for festival guests and attendees. Sykes and Stackhouse said they intend to request $25,000 in funding for next year’s Global Film Festival.
Council members were supportive of the event, and said they would like to see it continue to be promoted as a destination event that will drive residents from across the state to visit Williamsburg for the first time, or to return for the first time in years to see how the city has changed.
“Alumni are coming back and getting exposure to a different Williamsburg than when they were here,” council member Barbara Ramsey said. “I think that it helps in multiple different ways to get people to recognize that Williamsburg is not the same sleepy town.”
Proposed fiscal year 2020 budget
Also at Monday’s meeting, City Manager Andrew Trivette reviewed his proposed city budget for the next fiscal year.
As previously reported, the proposed fiscal year 2020 budget totals $68.28 million across six funds. The proposed general fund, which covers the city’s departmental spending, totals $35.06 million.
One of the larger changes in next year’s proposed budget is a 6 percent increase in the assessed value of real property in the city. The current year’s budget, which expires June 30, raised the real estate tax rate in the city by 3 cents per $100 of assessed value.
“It’s very important that everyone understand that this budget does not include a tax increase, but it does include an increase in the assessed value,” Trivette said. “This is not a number that is set by the city manager or by the City Council. This is derived by the city’s annual assessment process.”
As Trivette explained, an annual assessment process is underway and will determine the actual assessed value for real property once the study concludes this December.
Until then, he said, the proposed budget leaves some wiggle room. Figures in the proposed budget reflect a more conservative estimate of a 4 percent assessed value increase, while the advertised 6 percent is the maximum possible increase. Trivette said he expects the final assessment will show somewhere near a 5.7 assessed value increase.
“The reality as we move through the assessment process, which won’t be complete until December, is that we think it’s going to end up being around 5.7 percent,” he said. “What will happen is, when we get to December, City Council and staff will have to decide what to do with the excess revenue that might be generated by that difference.”
The difference between the maximum 6 percent assessed value increase and the expected 5.7 percent assessed value increase would result in $220,000 in excess funds, Trivette said.
Council members said they will continue to review the proposed budget and could return with suggested alterations at the board’s next regular meeting this Thursday.
“It’s an arduous process, beginning with department heads, many meetings with stakeholders and eventually delivering it to City Council, but it’s probably the most important thing that we’ll do because it speaks to implementing our policy visions,” Council member Benny Zhang said.
The board is expected to adopt a final budget at its May 9 meeting. Fiscal year 2020 will begin on July 1 and ends June 30, 2020.
Next City Council budget meeting:
Where: City Council Chambers, Stryker Center, 412 N. Boundary St.
When: 2 p.m. Thursday
The entire proposed city budget can be found at williamsburgva.gov/government/departments-a-h/finance/city-budget.
Arriaza can be reached at 757-790-9313 or on Twitter @rodrigoarriaza0.