Some 215 tourism grants funded from the state’s General Fund will be reduced because of the 10.6 percent proration declared by Gov. Robert Bentley in response to reduced revenue, tourism director Lee Sentell said. The product development grants were awarded last fall to tourist attractions, events and local government agencies. The Alabama Tourism Department managed the grant program at the request of Sen. Arthur Orr and Rep. Jim Barton, chairs of the legislative budget committees, and approved by the governor.
The April and July payments will be 21.2 percent less than the checks sent in October and January, Sentell said. For example, he said the final two payments for a $10,000 grant will be $1,969, as compared to the two earlier payments of $2,500. The final two checks funding a $5,000 grant will be $984.50 instead of the earlier payments of $1,250.
Sentell said unbudgeted costs associated with cleaning up tornado damage and an underperforming stock market in the fourth quarter of calendar 2011 contributed to the state’s financial shortfall. The state constitution prohibits the state government from spending more money than is received during the fiscal year. The department’s long-standing matching grants for marketing cities and events are paid from the tourism department’s regular budget, which is earmarked from the state’s lodgings tax, and was not included in the proration call.