The Turlock City Council could decide to terminate the City of Turlock’s $249,253 contract with the Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) on Tuesday.
CVB, which is ran by the Chamber of Commerce, is charged with marketing for the community with the goal of making the city a more attractive place for potential visitors as a means of bringing in outside dollars. Per the City, the goal of the program is increased convention sales, tourism marketing and services.
On Nov. 18, the then-Council, which included former Mayor John Lazar and former Councilmember Forrest White, approved the CVB contract on a 4-1 vote on Nov. 18. The adoption of the budget devoted Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) dollars, the additional tax on hotel and lodging services, to CVB services and activities.
Mayor Gary Soiseth directed that the Council revisit the contract during the “Council Items for Future Consideration” portion of the Jan. 27 meeting. Following the meeting, Soiseth released a statement detailing that, if approved on Feb. 10 by a majority vote, the CVB’s contract would terminate in 90 days from the vote.
“Over the past few weeks, this Council has started the process of creating a renewed City strategic plan and actively analyzing our department budgets,” said Soiseth in the statement. “The need for a comprehensive and clear marketing plan for our great city has been a recurring theme.”
The approved $249,253 budget is comprised of $138,000 administrative allowance with the balance of funds allocated to other projects and programs specific to the plan. The allowance includes a new event planner position, which would be shared between the City, Chamber, CVB and Turlock Downtown Association. A $111,253 budget for various elements relating to the promotion of tourism is also included.
At the time of the announcement, Chamber of Commerce CEO Sharon Silva did not have comment, although mentioned that she found out about the Mayor’s decision late on Jan. 27.
Then-Council approved the vote, with the condition that the Chamber comes before the Council within six months with an action plan, with cost assessments to review, and a proposal to shift their budget in line with the City’s.
This was the result of Councilmembers Amy Bublak, who casted the lone dissenting vote, and Bill DeHart voicing concern over lack of statistics and effectiveness. Former Council candidates Donald Babadalir and Parks, Arts and Recreation Commissioner Sergio Alvarado also voiced concerns over the contract.
Although Soiseth has directed that Council see the item now, rather than at the end of the six months, he does not believe it is too early.
If approved, a 90-day termination process would begin, which would end approximately at the six month timeline for the Chamber to provide the statistics Council previously asked for.
“I don’t think that’s it’s out of the realm for what is fair for the Chamber to ask that the 90 days trigger and then it end at roughly the same time as the six months,” said Soiseth in January, adding that the Chamber could provide the requested data in a proposal.
Along with the 90-day termination of the contract, a majority approval would also direct staff to issues a Request for Proposals to manage the CVB, including marketing services, participation in trade shows, publication of brochures, advertising in newspapers, magazines and billboards, and other related services directed by Council, per the staff report.
“I think that the Chamber can put together a great, competitive proposal, but I think that others out in the community can also do that as well,” said Soiseth in January.
If approved, Soiseth’s hope is that the City of Turlock would be able to the receive the proposals and make a decision on who would take over the marketing and tourism of Turlock, whether that be the Chamber of Commerce and CVB or another company.
“Turlock deserves to have a transparent and competitive process that results in clear expectations for both the City and those executing CVB services,” said Soiseth in the Jan. 27 statement. “I am a mayor that wants to deliver effective and efficient services for our residents in every department: from police services to recreation services to marketing services.”
On Tuesday, Turlock City Council will also:
- Receive a staff update on panhandling from Turlock Police Chief Rob Jackson.
- Consider amending Turlock Municipal Code Title 7, Chapter 4, by adding Article 2 regarding Excavations as introduced at the Jan. 27 meeting.
- Consider a five-year lease between the State of California, Military Department and the City of Turlock for the use of Soderquist Field for recreational purposes.
Turlock City Council will meeting Tuesday at 6 p.m. in the Yosemite Room of Turlock City Hall, 156 S. Broadway.