Committee approves BCTF contractThe City Council’s Finance and Legal Committee approved its five-year contract with the Buffalo City Tourism Foundation Tuesday after OKing requested changes.
By: Toni Pirkl, The Jamestown Sun
The Jamestown Sun
The City Council’s Finance and Legal Committee approved its five-year contract with the Buffalo City Tourism Foundation Tuesday after OKing requested changes.
The committee had tabled the contract last month when a $100,000 line of credit established in the original contract was deemed a danger. The money was to be used for any loans that might be needed to cover start-up costs for the new venture. None of it was ever used.
The amount was reduced to $25,000 to be used only in an emergency. The new contract reads “Buffalo City will not enter into any loan agreements to borrow funds in excess of $25,000 … without the prior approval of Jamestown.”
Mayor Clarice Liechty asked about the city’s liability for debts incurred by BCTF.
“There was potential for liability. That’s why the amount was drastically reduced,” said City Attorney Ken Dalsted.
Another bone of contention for Liechty was the City Council’s ability to appoint members to the BCTF Board of Directors. Since the City Council and Stutsman County Commission appointed the first members to the board five years ago, the BCTF Board has been choosing its own members and reporting those names to the governing bodies. The mayor called that “rubber stamping” and promoting a “good old boys club.”
The new contract says the BCTF Board will make recommendations but “the public body shall not be bound by such recommendations.” Dalsted said the recommendations would be subject to the City Council’s approval.
Liechty then questioned Buffalo City’s audit practices, asking why the next external audit was scheduled for 2011 in the contract. Nina Sneider, BCTF director, said they have an external audit every three years.
“We’ve scheduled one for 2008, which means it will be done in 2009,” Sneider said.
The five-page contract allows BCTF to do an internal audit in the intervening years.
Buffalo City Tourism will receive a total of $637,920 in city sales tax funds and county economic developments funds spread over the next five years. According to its contract, it will also receive 100 percent of the motel tax and 40 percent of the restaurant tax during the five years.
Councilwoman Kelani Parisien asked if any progress had been made on finding a way to facilitate and coordinate sporting events in Jamestown. She said each sports group and Jamestown Parks and Recreation operate independently.
Sneider said attempts to put together a coordination committee had so far failed. She noted that Fargo has such a committee working with all sports in the community.
“We should have a sports committee to plan, coordinate and find volunteers for events,” she said.
Parisien said it would be good for Jamestown to have an organization “that would help to bring in other events … and increase hotel and restaurant taxes.”
BCTF Board President Donna Zimmerman agreed.
“No one is coordinating that,” Zimmerman said. “We’ve helped with advertising for some of the sporting events, but there’s a gap.”
Sneider doesn’t have the time to add sporting events to her responsibilities, Zimmerman said, but anything that brings visitors to Jamestown is tourism. Sneider said she’d see if she could generate some interest in forming a committee.
The Finance and Legal Committee approved raising the city’s license and permit fees for 2009. The mayor asked when the fees had been adjusted last.
“The majority of the fees were adjusted in 2005,” said City Administrator Jeff Fuchs.
Liechty suggested a further adjustment to the fees by changing the beer and liquor license from a flat fee to one that charged by volume of business. She said smaller volume businesses would pay less, while large volume businesses would pay substantially more.
“You’d have to get involved in the auditing business to do that,” Fuchs said. “You’d spend more money administering it than you’d collect.”
The mayor figured the businesses could be required to add their volume amounts to their application. Then the city could do spot audits to make sure they were in compliance. Fuchs said more staff would be needed for such a requirement.
“I think it would be a real nightmare,” he said.
Finance and Legal Chairman Pat Nygaard said he agreed “with Jeff. You’d have to get into their financials.” Plus, he said, there are differences in the volumes generated by off sale, on sale or a business sells both ways, which brings its own headaches.
Liechty said she would continue to look into the possibility of charging a license fee according to volume.
Sun reporter Toni Pirkl can be reached at (701) 952-8453
or by e-mail at