By TESA GLASS
---- — MT. VERNON — New programs, festival and events in the city mean a proposed increase in the Tourism Department budget."With new programs being implemented after the Branding study with festivals and events, some extra spending to kick start those programs is in order," City Manager Ron Neibert said Friday during a council workshop meeting. "The working fund balance at the end of next fiscal year will still be well over what is required by the fiscal policy."The department is expected to start the 2013-14 fiscal year with a balance of $407,738. Revenue is projected at $569,557 and expenditures of $659,564. The projected ending balance is estimated at $317,731.The additional funds spent this year also include $47,000 in salary and fringe benefits for an additional employee at the department."The city is doing more events, festivals and we need to have a person assist in coordinating with the Festivals Committee, Public Works, Police and city department," Neibert said. "It will be someone to help manage new festivals. Also, at this time, on holidays, there is no staffing at the Tourism Department and the Visitors Center. ... On those days, more than others, it should be manned when there are more people on the road, stopping to ask questions and receive information about what is happening in the area."The budget shows a projected decrease in revenues from the prior fiscal year, in part due to the loss of hotel/motel tax receipts during the demolition and construction of the new Drury Hotel. The revenues are expected to return when the new hotel is built, and increase when Interstate construction is completed, Neibert said.According to Tourism Director Bonnie Jerdon, tourism and the new festivals are showing a positive impact on the economy of the city, with visitors spending $82 million last year — up from the previous year.