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$100K savings for combining 'The Fred' with Tourism?

A deal to combine Peachtree City’s tourism and amphitheater operations under the same umbrella is projected to save approximately $100,000 a year, according to city projections.

The savings will come from the elimination of two full-time positions as the City Council and Tourism Association have entered an agreement to allow the city’s visitors center to be operated immediately adjacent to the amphitheater box office.

The amphitheater will continue to be operated separately by the city as an arm of the recreation department. The tourism association will cease operating the visitors center’s current location off Ga. Highway 54 West on the Tennis Center property.

Amphitheater Director Nancy Price has been named the new executive director of the Tourism Association and she will oversee both the tourism and amphitheater operations.

Price has experience in the field, having worked as Fayetteville’s Main Street director and Downtown Development director from 2001-2008 when she was hired away to manage Peachtree City’s Frederick Brown Jr. Amphitheater.

The agreement between the Tourism Association and the City Council allows for the association to reimburse the city for all tourism-related activities, with the city being responsible for payroll and similar employment functions.

“By merging them we eliminated one executive director and one staffer,” said Mayor Don Haddix, who has been working on the deal since early December. “So it’s a pretty good savings.”

Price said the reduction in the summer concert series from 20 a year to six, with an emphasis on bringing more events to “The Fred” will leave her with plenty of time to work on tourism duties.

In addition to being much more efficient, Price said she thinks the arrangement also makes sense. In Fayetteville, Price planned all of the major downtown events and festivals in addition to overseeing operations of the historic train depot and welcome center, the Holiday Dorsey Fife Museum and the Hollingsworth House event facility.

Under the deal, tourism funds, which are derived from the city’s hotel-motel tax revenues, will be used to pay for a part of the salaries of the three remaining employees left from the merger. For Price, 70 percent of her salary will come from tourism funds with the remaining 30 percent coming from amphitheater revenues.

Box office manager Sarah Davenport will have 70 percent of her salary coming from amphitheater revenues and 30 percent from tourism. Office Manager Mary Camburn will have 40 percent of her salary come from the amphitheater, 35 percent from tourism and 25 percent from the city’s general fund.

Price noted that at one time the tourism association had a full-time marketing employee and also two facility maintenance employees, but now the tourism work “is down to pretty lean stuff.”

Tourism Association Chairman pro-tem Kai Wolter said the association has studied many options for the best and most efficient way to fill its executive director position and also remain fiscally responsible.

“We feel that by sharing space, the visitors center and The Fred will operate as efficiently as possible because not only will the office be shared but the employees will be shared and cross-trained as well,” Wolter said.

Wolter said the association hopes to utilize its ambassador volunteers and expand the visitors center hours to include weekends.

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