The Manchester PBA wants to clarify some incorrect statements recently made regarding the Manchester-Coffee County Conference Center (MCCCC) and clarify what the MCCCC has been doing to cut costs and improve the economic value to the City of Manchester taxpayers. Additionally, we feel that transparency and openness are important and want to address the questions that members of the community, including current and future customers have. As a result, a more detailed and comprehensive public statement is available at https://www.mcccc.com/press-release Just as importantly, we want to reassure all our current clients (holding more than 30 contracts currently secured for future bookings) that we are open for business. Please reach out to us if you have any questions or concerns.
At a recent Finance Committee meeting, the Finance Director was quoted as saying “Total expenses to date for just from January to May we have spent $225,021.41.” While we cannot speak for exactly where those numbers came from, the actual expenses the city reimbursed the Manchester PBA/MCCCC for January 2021 to May 2021 was $118,755.25 (the city allocated $25K/month for a total of $125K for this time period). It is possible that the $225K figure was based on the total for the past 11 months, which would include the city’s expenses for the old Coffee County PBA from July 2020 to Dec 2020 and the $118K reimbursed to the Manchester PBA. We believe this was an honest mistake of switching numbers or
misunderstanding the question. Since the question was reportedly what the city paid to the Manchester PBA/MCCCC for January to May, we understand the reaction that was generated by a number that was incorrect by over $106K. However, it did cause considerable damage to the reputation of the MCCCC among current and future customers, many of which have been concerned about their already booked meetings, weddings, and other events. Manchester PBA has NOT been over budget this year. In fact, the Conference Center has overachieved on monthly budgets from January to May 2021.
Also, the $39,078.72 figure quoted at the Finance Committee meeting includes money originally included in the $25K/month allocation the city approved for January to June. The Manchester PBA did not ask the city for an additional $39K over the original allocation. This is related to an SBA PPP loan. The city made a decision to reduce the monthly allocation for several months, despite previously instructing the Manchester PBA to submit invoices for the total $25K/month allocation. We hope to quickly resolve that issue with the city.
Members of Manchester PBA and MCCCC management have put considerable work into producing the Fiscal Year 2022 (July 2021 to June 2022) budget numbers to be as realistic as possible given the still uncertain projections about business activities as recovery from COVID continues to shape up. Part of that budget process was cutting out a lot of expenses that would be beneficial to goal of increasing traffic to the conference center but could not be justified given the economic uncertainty as we rebuild operations from the COVID related downturn. Also included in the FY22 budget was a payroll reduction. The Manchester PBA budget for FY22 that was submitted to the city was around $39K/month. The city approved an allocation of $29K/month.
The Manchester PBA will strive to come within the approved allocation set by the city through various means, but the Manchester PBA determined that it will realistically take an investment from the city of $39K/month to operate the MCCCC in FY22. If city funding for the MCCCC is not approved from a comprehensive budget, we will always appear over budget in the public’s eyes. MCCCC continues to explore grants and other avenues to reduce the costs of operations to the City of Manchester and its taxpayers. And we are hopeful that the reopening of the economy will improve the margins of the MCCCC so that the City of Manchester does not have to exceed their current allocation in FY22.
Please see the June 28th Manchester Times article “Conference center director briefs PBA on closing year” for more details about the activity at the Conference Center this year. MCCCC management has a presentation with additional information for any groups wishing to understand how the MCCCC generates positive economic impact to the Manchester area based on the State of Tennessee’s formulas and what we are doing to provide additional benefits to Manchester via work programs and in-kind contributions.
We continue to look forward to working with the City of Manchester to ensure that the MCCCC continues to provide an economic benefit to the city via bringing visitors from out of town for events and providing Manchester and surrounding Middle TN with a beautiful space for holding conferences, bridal events, seminars, meetings, and concert events. The MCCCC continues to book and hold events and the projected sales for the rest of 2021 are higher so far than originally projected as the economy opens back up, with some area businesses holding events recently that could not occur last year.