Tourism contract: Clause sets goals for grants, ad spendingThe City Council approved a modified contract with the Buffalo City Tourism Foundation Monday to provide tourism promotion services through 2016.
By: By Keith Norman, The Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
The City Council approved a modified contract with the Buffalo City Tourism Foundation Monday to provide tourism promotion services through 2016.
The four-year contract funds tourism with $299,320 per year for two years with funding levels for 2015 and 2016 to be negotiated.
A clause in the contract that BCTF dedicate $90,000 toward advertising and $150,000 toward grants for tourism sites in Jamestown concerned BCTF board members. Mayor Katie Andersen said she was concerned that money earmarked for those budget items may be used for administrative costs instead.
“I really resent that,” said Nina Sneider, executive director of the BCTF. “I’ve never done something like that and it would not happen.”
Andersen defended the action saying it was accountability of taxpayer money.
“I want some guarantee in the contract to make sure funds are used for sites and events,” she said.
Some council members saw it as an intrusion on the management responsibilities of the BCTF board.
“I don’t think we should be creeping towards micro-managing,” Councilman Dan Buchanan said. “We should be more hands off. The board (BCTF) has a good track record.”
The wording of the contract was changed to say the funding dedicated to advertising and grants were goals. The BCTF budget will be reviewed each year according to the contract and funds can be withheld if the budget does not meet the City Council’s approval.
Sneider also raised concerns that advertising costs would increase in 2014 because of the BCTF billboard contract.
Andersen said BCTF could apply for more money if it met requirements.
“We would need to see a plan for additional revenue before adding funds in the future,” she said.
Andersen suggested an admission fee of $5 per car which would entitle all occupants of the car to visit all tourist sites in Jamestown. She said collecting that fee from 50,000 cars per year would result in $250,000. Andersen said that figure assumed half the amount of traffic that currently travels through the Frontier Village.
Other council members opposed the idea.
“I’ve talked to about 30 people and not one said they were in favor of charging at tourist sites,” Councilman Steve Brubakken said. “I’ve talked to businesses that say keep them free so people keep coming to town.”
Councilman Charlie Kourajian also questioned charging admission at tourist locations.
“The (National) Buffalo Museum already charges an admission,” he said. “Would people pay an extra fee to get in the gate plus the fee in the museum?”
The reworded contract passed the City Council unanimously.
Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at 701-952-8452 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org