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Visit Oxford ends year in the black

Visit Oxford is charged with bringing people to Oxford where they will hopefully spend time shopping in local stores, eating in local restaurants and sleeping in local hotels.

Those visits create tax dollars and keeps the local economy thriving.

While tens of thousands of people come to Oxford during seven home football games each fall, and during a few special events like the Double Decker Arts Festival, Visit Oxford and the Oxford Tourism Council — which oversees Visit Oxford — work throughout the year to bring people into town on traditionally less busy weekends. To accomplish this, the organization has to spend money on advertising Oxford and marketing Oxford as a travel destination.

On Wednesday during the Tourism Council’s regular monthly meeting, Visit Oxford’s Assistant Director Kenny Ferris, announced Visit Oxford ended the fiscal year 2015-2016 with $120,000 more in revenue than was estimated last year when the budget was approved. Expenses were slightly higher than originally budgeted, about $40,000, leaving Visit Oxford with about $80,000 more than it projected to have at the end of the year.

“We’re in really great shape,” Ferris said. “I don’t know if we’ve ever ended the year in this position financially before. It’s uncharted territory for us.”

A big portion of the increase in revenue came from the hotel/motel tax. Visit Oxford projected earning $283,000 and wound up bringing in just over $400,000.

Council member Katie Morrison said Visit Oxford will need to reallocate those funds by mid-fiscal year.

The fiscal year runs from Sept. 30 through Oct. 1.

The council approved the amendments to the 2015-2016 budget and also approved the fiscal year 2016-2017 budget that has projected revenues and expenses of $860,000.