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Visit Oxford audit reveals few concerns

Visit Oxford hired a new accounting firm to perform its 2015 audit, Franks Franks Jerrell and Wileman, who presented findings to the Oxford Tourism Council during its regular meeting last week.

Director Mary Allyn Hedges said the audit was very thorough.

No major problems were found in the audit that was accepted and approved by the Tourism Council; however, there are two areas the audit found needed some attention, including under-budgeting $24,000 for expenses related to the 2015 Double Decker Arts Festival.

The audit recommendation was for Visit Oxford to ensure all expenses and within the final amended budget. Visit Oxford agreed to take necessary steps to provide the council with an accurate expense budget to actual comparisons for all required accounts and ensure the budgets are amended prior to budget overages occurring.

The finding was considered a significant deficiency; however, it is a less serious infraction that still merits attention.

A second finding was considered less severe and involved failing to bond some employees who could come in contact with public funds. Visit Oxford agreed to have those people bonded.

Overall the audit found Visit Oxford in a fairly accounted-for financial position.

More room, more tax

Hotel occupancy for December 2015 increased 4.7 percent over December 2014. The supply of rooms on the market in Oxford increased 17.2 percent from 2014. Room demand increased 22.7 percent from the same time frame.

As more hotels are being built, the supply will change and increase. But demand is the number to watch.

“To have a 22.7 percent increase from last December is a trend we want to continue,” Hedges said.

Revenue from hotels increased 24.1 percent from December 2014 to December 2015, and had held that type of growth since Visit Oxford started tracking it in April 2014.

In December 2015, the hotel/motel tax brought in $20,223, up 48 percent from 2014. The 2 percent Food and Beverage tax earned $196,488 in December 2015, up just 1 percent from 2014.