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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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New Plans May Be In Works For County Tourist Promotion

Issue Date: July 5, 2017

Hopes of Marinette County Board's Economic Development and Tourism Committee to make the Marinette County Tourism Coordinator into a full time county position received a setback at a brief special meeting of the Economic Development and Tourism Committee on Tuesday, June 27.

However, it appears alternate plans for promoting tourism in the county are being worked on by County Administrator John LeFebvre and Board Chair Mark Anderson.

LeFebvre and Anderson advised the Committee there are "bigger, broader plans in the works," and urged the committee to hold off on action. They did not elaborate on what the plans may be, but there has been discussion on possibly contracting or combining efforts with the City of Marinette on promoting use of the new Rec Center that is being built with some financial assistance from the county. The Rec Center is designed to have trade show and convention capabilities.

The current 29-hour per week tourism coordinator position has been held by Butch Kostreva since it was created in 2013 as an interim measure when the Tourism Alliance contract with Marinette Area Chamber of Commerce ended.

Kostreva and Economic Development and Tourism Committee Chair Shirley Kaufman have long argued that because of tourism's huge role in the Marinette County economy, and the amount of work that could and should be done, the tourism coordinator post should be a full time job.

Kaufman had proposed at least a year ago that the tourism coordinator job should be made full time. That proposal was approved by the committee at its July meeting last year and forwarded as a recommendation to the Personnel Committee and the County Board.

In December of 2016 the Personnel Committee, by a three to two vote, endorsed the position of a full time tourism coordinator to become effective April 1 of this year, provided an agreement could be worked out whereby the City of Marinette would cover part of the expense, and a portion of the tourism coordinator's time would be spent specifically promoting tourism in the city. That agreement never happened, and the Economic Development and Tourism Committee's recommendation to make the coordinator's post full time never came up for a vote by the full County Board.

Agenda for the Economic Development and Tourism Committee's meeting on June 19 included: "Discussion on how to proceed regarding tourism coordinator's increase in hours." At the start of that discussion, Kaufman noted that the process to increase the hours would need to start over again and said she would like to see the proposal on the agenda as an action item at their next meeting.

After some discussion, committee members Al Mans, Bill Stankevich and Tricia Grebin agreed to collect job descriptions for tourism coordinators or directors in other counties for comparison, as well as information on how other counties handle tourism efforts in general, and then meet after the County Board meeting on Tuesday, June 27.

Agenda for the special committee meeting was published as a full committee meeting, not as a sub-committee. Sole item on the agenda was: "Discuss current tourism coordinator job description and make possible recommendations to County Administrator and County Board Chair, which may be acted on at committee's July meeting."

Mans, Stankevich and Grebin had done their research and were present for the special June 27 meeting as assigned. Kaufman was unable to attend because of a funeral, and Stankevich chaired the meeting in her stead. Supervisor Christopher Schmidt, the fifth Economic Development and Tourism Committee member, was also absent. The last committee meeting Schmidt attended was in February, and the last County Board meeting he attended was in March.

At the start of the meeting LeFebvre apologized that this was the first of their meetings that he had attended since being named administrator in March. "I thought it was important that we come to this one," he added. He said the meeting's agenda was the first he had heard of the committee working on a job description. Stankevich and Grebin are both quite new to the committee, and LeFebvre recapped some previous events. He said there had been motions late in 2016 to make the tourism director's position full time, "but that depended on funding from the city and that didn't happen."

He said job descriptions are in the personnel and policies manual, and are used in performance reviews. The manual says the County Administrator, with the department heads, "shall review and update all job descriptions."

Kostreva has no department head. Mans pointed out when he was hired Corporation Counsel Gale Mattison told him he would answer to her.

LeFebvre said that was when the county was between administrators and was being run by a team consisting of Mattison, Finance Director Pat Kass and Human Resources Director Jennifer Holtger.

LeFebvre said management reviews job descriptions when a job becomes vacant, and they do that with input from the parent committee. He said a job description is the minimum necessary for the job. The committee had copies of the job description when the job was created in 2013, and also what appeared to be a 2016 update.

"This is not about Butch," LeFebvre declared. "This is about his position.

Stankevich explained the committee had been looking at things they would like to see in a job description.

"That's a slippery slope," LeFebvre cautioned. "Butch is already in the position. If there are significant changes we eliminate one job and create a new one." He cautioned a new job description might have some requirements that Kostreva could not meet.

Grebin said they wanted to compare Marinette County with what other counties do, and were assigned to do some research. She had learned Florence and Forest counties do not have a tourism coordinator or a tourism department. Her comments were cut off by Anderson, who asked, "My question here is, what do you want to achieve? What's your ultimate goal?"

Mans said they wanted to learn what Kostreva could do that is not on the job description and determine if the job description is up to date.

The conversation brought an objection from Stankevich that: "We don't get much done at meetings"We just hear reports"There has to be time for some brain storming"There's got to be more production for the time we spend here!"

"I will do my best to work with the chair to put items of substance before this committee," LeFebvre promised, and added, "There will be some coming up!".

Job description updates had been part of the Carson Dettman wage study that County Board had accepted earlier that day. LeFebvre said Carlson Dettman had all employees fill out a job description questionnaire. Committee members were provided with copies of Kostreva's current job description as well as a list he had prepared with things he could do if the position were full time. LeFebvre said he is doing some of those things now, ""but maybe not as much of it."

Stankevich said in his research he had found only one other county - Bayfield - that had a tourism coordinator. "The others contract with their chambers. "The closest is Oconto County, where Oconto County Economic Development Corporation promotes both tourism and business development and is subsidized by a contract with the county.

Kostreva said he designs magazine ads and does TV and radio spots things that are not really part of the job description, but really have to be done.

Committee members again attempted to report the results of their research, but were told this agenda only allowed discussion on the job description. "I don't want you to spend a whole lot of time on a job description if we're going to change the way we handle tourism," LeFebvre told them.

Anderson added the county has gone through a lot of administrative changes in the last few years, and there will be many other changes. "John is going to come back with bigger and grander scheme on tourism and all of economic development." He said for Kostreva to just go from 70 percent to full time will not solve the problem.

"I'm looking at the larger scheme of things," LeFebvre said. "Do we spend money on this position to raise it up to 100 percent or do we spend money on the DA's office to bring in another district attorney to help?".County Board will need to set priorities".Our pot of money is only so big."

LeFebvre said they have a 75 percent job description, and added that Kostreva is doing a good job at what he's doing.

"I would like to know what other counties do," Grebin declared. Stankevich said he had information on five towns in Forest County. Since it was not on the agenda they were not allowed to discuss his findings, but were advised to put them on the agenda for the next committee meeting.

Grebin asked if the county has a grant director, and was told they do not. Kostreva said he had gotten a grant for the City of Marinette for its walleye fishing tournament.

Heeding LeFebvre's urging, the committee took no action and the meeting adjourned 25 minutes after it had started.










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