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Tourism Tax Commission Considers Whether To Weigh In On Future Of Tourism Director Position

In one of its shorter meetings in recent years, the city of Ste. Genevieve Tourism Tax Commission (TTC) approved $1,130 in expenditures on November 19 and discussed the possibility of taking a stand on the city’s funding of tourism.

With outgoing tourism director Sandra Cabot unable to attend and only four members present, the meeting lasted just 15 minutes.

There was some confusion over the agenda. Under “old business,” an item called “TTC support” was the sole entry. None of those present was certain to what it pertained.

Commission member Tom Hooper speculated that might refer to an e-mail members had received from Tourism Advisory Council chair Sara Menard asking them to voice support for the city continuing to fund the tourism department.

He said the letter had asked the commission to consider taking a step “to create a statement of support for the tourism director and continuing with the tourism center and marketing.”

It was agreed that this was probably what the line referred to.

“My interpretation of what was discussed at the last [Board of Aldermen] meeting was they asked me to investigate alternatives,” city administrator Martin Toma said. “No decision was made on what is going to happen. So we are in the process of considering those alternatives.

“One would be to write a job description for the [Welcome Center] facility manager only. And then maybe an RFP [request for proposals] for some outside marketing service.”

“And that marketing would be distinct from our budget?” Hooper asked.

“You would have to decide that,” Toma said.

Hooper said the Tourism Advisory Council and Tourism Tax Commission work together, with their own fields of responsibility. The council advises the tourism director on marketing decisions as the position manages funds from the city budget, while the commission oversees funds — about $24,000 per year — generated by a 2 percent tax on overnight stays at lodging establishments in the city.

“They complement each other,” Hooper said. “Our money has to be spent in specific ways due to the source of the money. There’s also making sure there’s no duplication of that.”

Susie Johnson, the Board of Aldermen’s liaison to the group, suggested the commission draft such a statement soon if they do it at all.

With Cabot leaving on November 30 after six-plus years to take a position with the Missouri Department of Economic Development, some members of the Board of Aldermen see it as an opportunity to redefine the position. Reducing the department’s budget was discussed during the summer budget meetings, and the director’s marketing and economic development duties may be reduced or eliminated.

“I would suggest,” Johnson said, “that if this body wants to make some sort of letter of recommendation, sooner rather than later would be my thought.”

See complete story in the November 27 edition of the Herald.

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