How to approach filling the director of tourism position being vacated by Sandra Cabot was one of three items on the table during work sessions before and after the Ste. Genevieve Board of Aldermen’s regular meeting last Thursday.
The topic was taken up when the work session resumed after the regular meeting. A final conclusion was reached that the position should be scaled back to primarily Welcome Center director, with the salary correspondingly cut.
“There was a lot of discussion about the tourism budget during the budget process,” city administrator Martin Toma said. “This is kind of a high-profile position, so I personally didn’t want to just treat it like any other unfilled position in the city and find somebody qualified to fill it. I wanted to bring it to your attention so we could discuss it.
The question, Toma said, was whether they wanted to continue having a person responsible for both marketing the city and running the Welcome Center, or if a scaled-down job description was preferred. Toma said part of Cabot’s duties are also in economic development, with a portion of her salary paid by the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), through the county.
“I doubt if we can find somebody like her who can handle all those things,” Toma said.
The other option is to find a contractor for marketing services and scale the position back to initially being Welcome Center manager.
Mayor Paul Hassler informed the board that Mary Elise Okenfuss, who has worked at the Welcome Center since 2014, has agreed to take over management duties until a permanent replacement is named. He said Okenfuss is not interested in the permanent position.
“We’re not going to miss a lick when buses come to town,” he said. “We have to have somebody down there manning the Welcome Center and directing people.”
Ward 2 Alderman Bob Donovan said he would like to see “a joint effort between any entities that benefit” from the position. Hassler said he doubted if much help could be counted on from other entities.
“I still firmly believe we need to market this city,” Hassler said “It’s our responsibility to market the city; we’ve got to do that.”
Donovan agreed, but insisted that the city should at least ask the county to help fund the position. Ward 3 Alderman Mike Raney agreed.
“Obviously, asking after things are already in place weakens your position,” Raney said, “so now is a good time.” …
A consensus emerged that the position should be redefined to include only the management of the Welcome Center, at a reduced salary, while marketing is farmed out to an outside firm.
See complete story in the November 20 edition of the Herald.