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By MARK EVANS
STE. GENEVIEVE HERALD
Lacking a quorum Jan. 16, members of the joint tourism group had an opportunity to brainstorm on ways to avoid lacking a quorum.
The two groups began meeting jointly early in 2021. The Tourism Tax Commission (TTC) oversees use of tax revenues for tourism, while the Tourism Advisory Council (TAC) advises the city on tourism matters. Before 2021, the two groups met separately, usually holding back-to-back meetings the same night.
Joe Steiger, Ward 3 alderman and that board’s liaison, asked about the possibility of changing bylaws and allowing a “more diverse” or “flexible” membership.
City Administrator Happy Welch, however, explained that the guidelines for TTC membership (ownership or employment in a tourism-related business) are set by state statute.
However, he brought up another possible option.
“What I’m worried about is that we have, because the way people’s schedules are, we have so many people we’re trying to fill for 10 positions, when we just need five to pass for budget, for the tourism budget,” Welch said. “So should we not do TAC, combine that into the TTC, and just do five members? It would be the information you’re all getting, but it would just be those five people that would be in charge.”
He noted that the TAC members could still attend the meetings.
“I think that’s what was the fight before, was that there wasn’t a lot of input then when you have it at that five member,” Steiger said. “I remember Jack Donze, when he was on, and I can’t remember, who some of the other members were, they didn’t feel like they had enough authority with the TTC versus the TAC.”
He asked Welch if he thought that would work.
Welch said that to pass budgets and approve use of funds for projects, he needs TTC members present (enough for a quorum), not TAC members.
“For me, I want TTC to be functional. That’s important. We don’t have to meet every month. We did that because we were just getting into new tourism directors, everybody felt it was important to meet monthly, to go over things, but I think at some point it’s going to become redundant that we’re not making that many changes.”
Once the upcoming marketing plan- which McDaniels Marketing is putting together – is complete, Welch said, “Things can kind of flow on their own based on the way the plan is set up.”
Mike Fallert asked whether they could be doing anything different in how they recruit members. Welch replied that they are usually recommended, based on interest.
At the moment, the TTC includes Nichole French, Gary Smith, Whitney Tucker and Jim Ferguson. There is one vacant position. Currently, Dena Kreitler, Steiger and Laura Oliver are on the TAC, with two openings.
Kreitler agreed with the idea of merging the TAC into the TTC.
“To me, if we’re the only three TAC members, I don’t understand. I don’t know why we wouldn’t just merge it,” she said. “I’m fine wit being adhoc.”
She asked Welch whether such a move would have to be approved by the board of aldermen.
“I’ll have to see the bylaws and see how that works,” Welch said, “ but I’m going to say I don’t think so but don’t hold me to it. But, what you do is you can dissolve and make a recommendation and the board can decide what they want to do.”
Fallert asked whether they have “picked the brains” of tourism organizations in other cities, to see how they are structured.
He handed out copies of a Jefferson County Leader story about the Jefferson County tourism Commission getting $120,000 in matching marketing funds from the Missouri Division of Tourism.
“They’ve only been active for three years,” Fallert said. “We’ve been active for a hundred years or a million years.”
He said Jefferson County has a 52-member commission, with each member having to pay dues.
“It just talks about how they seem like they have this ball rolling and we seem like we’re stalled,” he said. “I don’t know if there’s things that have maybe changed since we’ve looked at the guidelines from the state.”
He asked if Welch was going by the most up-to-date statutes. Welch assured him he was.
Welch suggested that some of the Jefferson County group’s appeal might be the novelty of it.
“It may be new, it may be shiny, and you can get a lot of people to join,” he said.
Steiger asked Aaron Smith, the new tourism director, whether he would like to meet with the combined group, or just with the TTC
“Would you like to hear from that advisory council and have that input on a more of a formal basis, monthly or bi-monthly or along those lines?” he asked.
Kreitler said that since it’s just her, Steiger and Oliver, they would be there anyway.
“Why do we have to have a title?” she asked. “I don’t need a title.”
Smith responded to Steiger’s question.
“Would I love to have the input?” he asked. “Yes. But like Happy said, I’m more present in the community. So going around and talking to people one on one, you even get more candid responses that way than you would in a group setting.”
Welch also showed the group the revised front page of the tourism website, revamped recently by JRudny. They discussed improvements to the page for several minutes.
Welch also said tat McDaniels Marketing should have its marketing plan finished sometime in February. If it is done in time for the Feb. 20 meeting, the group can go over it then.
The Gravel Classic in April was also discussed. This will be the third annual event for the huge bicycle race. Getting more family members to accompany the participants and encouraging them to stay and shop are goals.