The Turlock City Council unanimously approved the Turlock Convention and Visitors Bureau 2013 budget Tuesday night, which will see the CVB begin to offer services on weekend days.
But approval of the CVB budget was almost postponed, as Councilwoman Amy Bublak requested the measure be delayed until after newly elected councilmember Steve Nascimento is seated in December.
The council postponed approving a study of city water rates on Nov. 13 for the same reason, and has a past practice of delaying important decisions during lame-duck sessions. Councilwoman Mary Jackson is currently serving her final council meetings, as she did not win reelection on Nov. 6.
At the request of Mayor John Lazar, Nascimento took to the podium to suggest council members take action on the CVB budget.
“You are all elected to carry out your full term, and I expect you to vote on the matters before you,” Nascimento said. “… I would encourage you to move forward.”
The CVB, operated under an agreement between the City of Turlock and the Turlock Chamber of Commerce, serves as the city’s tourism marketing arm. The agreement allows the Chamber to receive a maximum of $99,000 annually to administrate the CVB, which operates on a calendar year budget cycle as opposed to the city’s June to June budget.
The approved budget will see the CVB receive $97,518.56, a combination of 14,900 in fixed expenses and $82,618.56 in salary and benefits. That will fund a CVB Manager position, at $40,258 annually, a staff assistant, a part-time intern, 50 percent of an office assistant, and 15 percent of the Chamber CEO’s salary.
A further $112,645 will be used to conduct marketing and outreach efforts. That money is generated through hotel tax revenue.
Though the overall expenditure is flat compared to a year ago, $5,200 in funding was reallocated to begin a new joint-effort with the Carnegie Arts Center. Under the agreement, the Carnegie will offer visitor information on weekend days, when the Chamber of Commerce is closed.
“We think that’s going to be a big step going forward in promoting the city virtually seven days a week,” City Manager Roy Wasden said.
Bublak initially questioned the agreement with the Carnegie, which was poorly explained in the staff report. Once learning the purpose of the expense, Bublak ultimately supported the budget.
“I don’t have a problem with it,” Bublak said. “I’m asking the questions I was voted in to ask.”
Bublak also initially had concerns with both the budget’s structure and the CVB’s role, which she saw as potentially duplicating services offered by Turlock Parks and Recreation.
The CVB budget is based on a fixed figure, independent of hotel tax revenues which pay for the organization. And Parks and Recreation and the CVB are complimentary, Wasden said, with the city focused on running local sports tournaments and the CVB catering to every other facet of a team’s needs.
“I see this as synergistic,” Jackson said. “… I think this is a win-win, congrats on keeping it under budget in this economy.”
Ultimately, council members unanimously approved the CVB budget. The CVB’s annual report, traditionally presented alongside the budget, is expected in January.