A&P Commission gives update of events center, possible naming rights

Possible naming rights for the Benton events center and advertising and promotion tax collections were addressed Thursday afternoon in a meeting of the Benton A & P Commission.
Commission Chairman Mark Fikes told the council that the events center project is ahead of schedule.
The commission recently approved an initial site plan and conceptual drawing of the center. A groundbreaking ceremony for the project is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. July 3 at the Hickory Square Shopping Center site.
Following a suggestion from Fikes, the commission decided to sell the land adjacent to the center to the hotel chain that will build a facility at the site. Previously, the commission had planned to lease the land to the chain for $1 a year for 99 years.
The commissioners agreed that the sale would be a more prudent approach and that the proceeds from the land sale could be allocated toward the events center project.
Jasen Kelly of GoBenton presented a request for proposals related to naming rights for the center.
The purpose of the RFP, as stated in the document, "is to associate a corporate name with the facility. This opportunity will forge a partnership between the private and public sectors. Public sector financial benefits include the enhancement of the marketing budgets to attract new events and continue facility capital improvements."
Kelly presented a timeline for the proposal and noted that the RFP could be submitted to the Benton City Council for consideration in September.
Karen Scott, chief financial officer for the city of Benton, presented a financial report showing the commission currently has $2 million in cash plus $300,000 in certificates of deposit. She told the commission some businesses have failed to sign for certified letters informing the establishment it is delinquent on tax payments.
Scott told the commission that the vast majority of businesses pay the A&P tax in a timely manner, but one or two consistently will be late.
The process of notifying business owners of late payments includes a personal letter sent from Scott followed by a certified letter noting the reminder for payment. If failure to pay continues for two consecutive months, the owner is sent a certified letter including a notice that a hearing has been scheduled.
"Usually all it takes is a telephone call from me and the accounts are usually brought up to date within a day," Scott said.
The commission discussed the possibility of providing Scott with a police escort to accompany her to the business that is delinquent in payments, but decided to allow Scott the discretion of addressing the matters in a cost-efficient manner.
On occasion, the delinquent payments reportedly were less than $40 and the cost of certified letters could exceed the delinquent amount.
In other business, the commission approved an advertising expense of $750 for signage promoting the events center during Freedom Fest on July 3 and 4.