Although a proposed Area Tourism Commission will most likely replace the Town Tourism Committee in January (representing both county and town tourism concerns), the Archuleta County Board of Commissioners told the Pagosa Springs Town Council at last Friday’s joint meeting that it would not be funding the TTC but would instead be giving money directly to the Chamber of Commerce to support the Visitor Center.
As reported in the Sept. 8 edition of The SUN, both council and the BoCC proposed that the TTC and County Tourism Commission would merge after Jan. 1, 2012, to become the Pagosa Springs Area Tourism Commission (ATC).
Those plans changed substantially at Friday’s meeting, with the BoCC proposing to disband the CTC and allocate that board’s funding to the Chamber.
Both the TTC and CTC are funded directly by lodgers tax dollars. By statute, those tax dollars must be used for the promotion of tourism.
Within town limits, lodgers tax is 4.9 percent and provides the TTC with approximately $400,000 for its budget. In the county, lodgers pay a 1.9 percent tax which funded the CTC at around $75,000.
“The commissioners, upon further reflection, decided that the amount is really not that much and decided to turn the money over to the Chamber,” said Archuleta County Administrator Greg Schulte at the meeting.
Commissioner Steve Wadley added that the BoCC felt the solution was simpler than continuing on with another level of bureaucracy.
Regarding the dissolution of the CTC, Commissioner Clifford Lucero added, “We checked the temperature of the CTC and they’re OK with that.”
However, two council members expressed some concerns that the BoCC had decided to fund the Chamber directly instead of funneling that money through the TTC.
Council member Bob Hart (who is also the TTC president) said, “My only concern is that the Chamber and the Visitor Center are two different entities.”
“It’s the appropriate thing,” responded county attorney Todd Starr. “The money will be going to the same place it’s gone every year.”
Council member Stan Holt expressed concern that the BoCC could, at some time down the road, decide it would allocate those funds somewhere else and not honor the commitment to support tourism.
Starr responded again, reminding Holt that the county was statutorily obligated to use lodgers tax dollars to support tourism.
Nonetheless, although the BoCC switched gears with a previously proposed CTC/TTC merger, the board conceded that the devil is in the details and more paperwork would have to be generated to ensure propriety (in light of statutory requirements).
“We will have to have an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) between the county and the Chamber,” Lucero said. “The relationship’s really good and we want to continue with that.”