MCTA 2013 budget in limbo
Board members claim exclusion from budget process by Moffat County Commission
In other action...
At its regularly scheduled meeting Wednesday, the Moffat County Tourism Association Board:
• Approved, 5-0, November meeting minutes.
• Approved, 5-0, a $3,000 funding request from Bear River YoungLife for 2013 car show.
• Heard 2012 Balloons and BBQ event recap report.
• Discussed Colorado Outfitters Association magazine advertising opportunity.*
• Approved, 3-2, spending $590 for advertising space on the Craig Chamber of Commerce map.
• Discussed event funding process.
• Heard director’s report.
• Heard partner report from Chris Oxley, executive director of the Craig Chamber of Commerce.
— Board members Tammie Thompson-Booker and Tony Bohrer were absent from Wednesday’s meeting.
— The Board did not take action on the Colorado Outfitters Association magazine advertising opportunity because board member Tom Mikesell recused himself from voting, which resulted in the Board not having a quorum.
The Moffat County Commission is scheduled Tuesday to present and approve its final 2013 budget.
But members of one volunteer organization are unhappy about being excluded from this year’s budget process.
The Moffat County Tourism Association Board on Wednesday convened to discuss its proposed 2013 budget, the status of which is unknown.
Many MCTA board members voiced their disapproval, charging the commissioners with hijacking their budget and prohibiting MCTA from participating in discussions about 2013 funds.
“That’s because they don’t believe in the open meeting process,” said MCTA board member Leona Hemmerich. “These commissioners are not good commissioners and it doesn’t take intelligence to be elected to office.”
The current rift between MCTA and the Moffat County Commission stems back to July when MCTA was asked to submit a proposed 2013 budget, while taking into consideration there would not be the same amount of available funds as it had this year.
MCTA receives its funding from the 1.9 percent county lodging tax. The commission provides oversight of the budget and all board transactions go through the county's accounting office.
MCTA complied, said Director Melody Villard, by submitting a proposed 2013 budget in July that featured 39 percent cuts across all funds except for two.
MCTA also proposed 29 percent funding reductions for the Colorado Welcome Center in Dinosaur and the Craig Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center, which totaled $2,000 and $7,830, respectively, Villard said.
Through its county liaison, Commissioner Tom Gray, MCTA was told to maintain current funding levels for the Colorado Welcome Center and the Chamber Visitor Center by making additional cuts to other line items in its proposed 2013 budget, Villard said.
“They feel like funding the welcome centers is MCTA’s most important financial responsibility,” Villard said. “We were told our bottom line is to fund the welcome centers and then set the rest of our budget around that.”
But Villard and her board members believe MCTA’s primary mission is to promote the county through advertising in an effort to attract outside visitors and motivate existing visitors to extend their stays.
“That’s what we’ve been doing with our rebranding through Hill Aevium and that’s what we’ve done with all of our new marketing, but also realizing we have a huge amount of traffic that comes through this area that doesn’t realize what’s just beyond the horizon,” Villard said. “When we are able to show people what we have, like the Sand Wash Basin and the (Dinosaur National) Monument we’re able to keep them here.”
Sticking to its interpretation of its mission the MCTA Board voted to keep its budget as originally drafted.
During a board meeting in November Gray responded to MCTA with an ultimatum.
“He basically told us to make their changes or they would make them for us,” Villard said.
The board then approved to put the responsibility in the hands of the commissioners under the condition that they receive the opportunity to review and respond to any further budget changes.
With less than a week before the commission is slated to approve its final 2013 budget, MCTA has not been invited, nor been made aware of any public workshops concerning its 2013 budget, Villard said.
“As I understand it our input was requested for at a public meeting,” Hemmerich said Wednesday. “But they have refused to collaborate with us because they are the dictators.”
MCTA expects the commission to cut about $13,000 from its 2013 budget, namely from its contingency, web site development and advertising funds.
But the board does not expect to find out for sure until after the commission approves its final 2013 budget Tuesday.
Commissioner Tom Gray was out of town Wednesday and could not be reached for comment.
Joe Moylan can be reached at 875-1794 or email@example.com