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August 14, 2012
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ERC will lead county's efforts to attract tourists

After much hemming and hawing, the Economic Resource Council of Nevada County was awarded a contract to manage the county's efforts to attract more tourists to the region.

In a 3-1 vote with one abstention, the Nevada County Board of Supervisors tentatively awarded the $120,000 contract to the ERC with a slew of stipulations.

Supervisor Terry Lamphier voted against the resolution, while Supervisor Hank Weston abstained.

The contract will be awarded to the ERC in $17,000 increments spread out over the next year, beginning in October.

The ERC must reach each time-sensitive milestone to be awarded the installment, including creating a specific marketing plan for the region by December.

It was the absence of such |a plan in Tuesday's proposal that Weston said caused him to abstain from voting in the matter.

"I am hesitant to sign a contract if I don't see a plan," Weston said. "Right now, there are a lot of superlatives and no specifics."

Ted Owens, who voted in favor of awarding ERC the contract, said the performance measures and the ability to "put the brakes" on the contract reassures him that the specifics will appear by the Dec. 1 deadline.

Lamphier said he received phone calls from members of the Chambers of Commerce urging him to vote against the measure due to the lack of specifics in the contract, but he lamented the fact that those individuals did not show up at the public meeting to voice their concern.

Ed Scofield addressed concerns voiced over his affiliation with the ERC, as he and Assistant County Executive Alison Lehman sit on the board of the ERC, an economic development organization.

"Some people have said I should abstain from this," Scofield said. "But I have stayed back from the process. I was not involved with the Request for Proposal, I was not involved with the selection committee and I believe I can vote with a clear conscience."

Owens said supervisors are required to sit on a myriad of boards in order to provide oversight for taxpayers dollars and said he did not perceive a conflict of interest.

"I believe Ed handled it appropriately," he said.

Supervisor Nate Beason said the contract will hold the ERC to a much higher performance standard than any previous contracts awarded citing the payment system, the measurable milestones and the possibility to amend the contract throughout the process.

The ERC will subcontract many elements of the tourism effort, including with Shannon Pelline, publisher of Sierra Food Wine and Art, who will manage the county sponsored website www.GoNevadaCounty.com.

The $120,000 is derived from the Transient Occupancy Tax, commonly known as a bed tax, which is a percentage of the cost a visitor pays to stay at a hotel, motel, bed and breakfast or campground.

Nevada City, Grass Valley and Truckee all generate their own TOT funds, from which they sponsor marketing efforts.

Weston emphasized that money generated from unincorporated portions of the county should be spent to market those specific areas.

To contact Staff Writer Matthew Renda, email mrenda@theunion.com or call (530) 477-4239.


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The Union Updated Aug 14, 2012 07:37PM Published Aug 14, 2012 07:34PM Copyright 2012 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.