Supes offer visitors bureau to private sector
Senior Staff Writer
Planning for the future is always sound, but in California’s present financial morass, the Nevada County Board of Supervisors is finding it tougher all the time.
Supervisors approved a plan to offer the new county Conference and Visitors Bureau management to a private contractor Tuesday, realizing they may not have enough money to fully fund it past the first year.
The board set aside $90,000 last year to start the bureau – enough for the new bureau for fiscal year 2010-11 which starts July 1; but with tax revenue streams slowing to a trickle, funding beyond that is unknown.
A special panel recommended outsourcing after Supervisors Hank Weston and Ted Owens said in January 2009 they wanted to change how tourism attraction money was doled out. They said the system wasn’t equitable for the unincorporated areas and lacked coordination for countywide benefit.
Traditionally, much of about $300,000 in available business attraction funds had gone to the city-dominated Chambers of Commerce, with a stipend to run the Economic Resource Council.
When the concept was approved last year, the plan was for the new bureau chief to make the office self-supporting by the third year.
Supervisor John Spencer was the lone vote against the bureau.
“Spending money on something brand new might not be the right thing to do right now,” Spencer said, citing future funding uncertainties.
The board also voted to establish a new committee to handle the proposals that come in.
“I hope the committee can think about not forming a bureau,” Spencer said. The committee could send the county’s annual tourist and business attraction funds back to the chambers, he suggested, adding, “They need more money.”
The makeup of the committee was a matter of contention. Supervisors Ed Scofield, Hank Weston and Spencer approved a seven-person board, with Chairman Nate Beason and Owens voting against it.
The committee will be made up of one person from each supervisor district, another from the Joint Chambers of Commerce, and a seventh selected by the board – ostensibly for expertise.
Before that vote, Owens said his Truckee-area constituents feared they would not have adequate representation on a seven-member board because “There is a psyche in the eastern part of the county of being the red-headed stepchild to the western portion of the county.”
As the discussion became more contentious, Beason said, “We thought to do this to get out of parochialism, but I’m hearing parochialism.”
That was followed by a motion from Owens for a five-member panel with one from each district to achieve the equity he sought. It died when only he and Beason voted for it.
County Executive Officer Rick Haffey said he hopes the committee is appointed soon so the board can make a decision about the bureau before the end of the 2009-10 fiscal year, which is June 30.
To contact Senior Staff Writer Dave Moller, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call (530) 477-4237.
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