Bill Wayne's Political Pages - The Gadfly
Gadfly 20
Printed in the Warrensburg Gazette October 21, 1999

The Gadfly is a series of letters offering commentary on local issues and published in the Warrensburg Gazette.

Dear Editor

I read that the GWACC&VC (Greater Warrensburg Area Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Center) is concerned because the Old Drum Days fall festival isn't drawing well and doesn't have enough craft booths. The reason there's no craft booths is that crafters can't make money with the fees the GWACC&VC charges them. A major reason locals don't attend is that there doesn't seem to be much going on. If the sponsors would go back to having booths on both sides of the street, the festival would seem more exciting - like Holden's Fall Fiesta.

What I really want to discuss is the use of the 2.5% lodging tax passed by 44 votes in April 1998 and in effect since July 1998. This will take a few letters, since it's a complex subject. While state law requires money generated by such a tax to be used for tourism marketing and the promotion of tourism, the promoters of the lodging tax stated that 20% of the approximately $50,000 generated annually would be used to offset existing GWACC&VC expenses. City ordinance 3334 passed June 8, 1998, set up the rules under which the GWACC&VC would use the money; a contract between the City and the GWACC&VC was signed on June 9.

The City ordinance established a Convention & tourism advisory board, with three members appointed by the Mayor and two by the GWACC&VC. Two members were required to be from the lodging industry. The Board was required to elect a chairman, vice-chairman and secretary/treasurer and to establish bylaws, rules and regulations for guidance & administration. The Board currently consists of representatives of the two largest motels in Warrensburg, a CMSU financial executive, an auto dealer, and a schoolteacher.

The City ordinance also requires this Board to submit a proposed line item budget and an annual report of activities to the City Council by September 15th. They didn't make it. The Board approved the 'budget' on October 14th and reviewed a one-and-a-half page annual report. I'll discuss these, in detail, in a future letter.

The Board is also subject to Missouri's "Sunshine Law" that requires advisory board meetings be open to the public and to be properly publicized and that records be available to the public. While the GWACC&VC met the minimum requirements for the October 14th meeting by posting the notice at the Chamber office on the preceding day, I have no idea why they don't want to publicize the meeting openly by notifying the papers, etc. By limiting the advance notice of their meetings, the GWACC&VC is restricting the pool of creativity for developing ideas to help promote Warrensburg.

Next week - where has all the money gone, long time passing?
[see also Gadfly 21, Gadfly 22 and Tourism Tax information.]

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