The Gadfly is a series of letters offering commentary on local issues and published in the Warrensburg Gazette.
Last Thursday (2/17), I sat in on the Tourism Advisory Board meeting of the GWACC&VC (Greater Warrensburg Area Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Center). This is the Board, appointed by the City & the GWACC&VC to oversee expenditures from the 2.5% transient room tax (tourism tax). There's good news & bad news to report.
The good news is that the Tourism Administrator is getting some real tourism activities done. Their new Old Drum flyer includes interesting background information which previous flyers did not. The administrator has taken over maintenance of the Chamber website, which allows faster reaction time on changes; the State Division of Tourism has finally provided a web link from the state page to Warrensburg. It appears the GWACC&VC will actually work with the Fair Board and Historical Society to promote their attractions. The GWACC&VC has published a bookmark-size calendar of events (mostly CMSU functions this time), which I haven't run across in town yet.
Now for the bad news. I'm not sure that the Advisory Board members take seriously their responsibility to oversee the spending of public tax money. For the second scheduled meeting in a row there was no quorum, so no real business could be transacted; the last legal meeting was in October, the next (maybe) will be in April. The Board did not review expenses in detail to provide guidance on the value of programs; it seems to me that this failure would be in violation of their own Bylaws (if they'd had a quorum to adopt them).
The draft By-laws limit those promoted to lodging establishments that are within the City Limits or who are GWACC&VC members. That seems to preclude promotion of other tourism-related businesses that collect City sales tax (but not the lodging tax), leaving out restaurants, coffee/tea shops, antique stores, other unique shops, etc. Whenever tax money is being spent, I'd think that all tourism-related Warrensburg businesses should be included in any promotional material, regardless of their GWACC&VC membership status.
In order to give the public more confidence in the GWACC&VC's tourism efforts, I'd like to suggest a few ideas: Add "paid for by the Warrensburg Tourism Tax" to all printed matter so people know what's being done. Invite the Press & public to attend their Advisory Board meetings by providing meeting notices & agendas at the same time they provide them to the members (our neighbors in Clinton do). Make the expenditure details public (after all, all records are subject to the Sunshine Law).
Never forget - the money we're talking about is public tax money!
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