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Tourism Alliance Continues To Struggle With Future Form

Options for future financing and management structure for Marinette County tourism promotion were discussed at some length by members of the Tourism Alliance Committee at a meeting held Thursday, Jan. 10 at the Crivitz Fire Station, but no decisions were reached. It was the first time since October that the group has been able to muster a quorum for its monthly meeting.

In regular business taken care of before discussion on the proposed reorganization began, the Alliance approved a request made by Iron Snowshoe, Inc. last November that Randy Polson be approved as their representative on the committee until the term expires in April, but denied a request that Leon Popp be the alternative if Polson is unable to attend. Committee Chair Nick Lakari, the County Board Supervisor from Crivitz, said Popp is welcome to attend and participate at any time, but we’ve been down that road before, and the group does not provide for alternate voting memberships.

The Iron Snowshoe will be notified by mail that they should send another letter seeking approval of whoever they choose, including Polson, for a 2-year term beginning in April. Lakari assured members that letters will also go to organizations represented by other members whose terms expire in April. The appointment letters should include some information on the person’s background and experience, Lakari said. Terms ending g in April in addition to Polson, are those of Lakari, County Supervisor Shirley Kaufman, Peggy Hansen of Coleman Cougar Country, John Guarisco of Crivitz Rec Association, Amy Shaffer of Crivitz Business Association and Jim Brien of Wausaukee Business Association.

Treasurer Renee Kresl reported the December bills totaling over $18,000 were paid by Marinette County Finance Department, but some checks were issued twice for the same invoice and the amounts were deducted from Alliance reserves. In some cases, such as the monthly payment to Marinette Area Chamber of Commerce, the duplicate payment can simply be credited to the next month’s bill, but bills from other vendors were for occasional purchase of services and efforts will be made to have the money returned.

Meanwhile, the exact amount to be carried over to the 2013 budget is now unknown, and members postponed approval of some proposed budget revisions until firm numbers are available from the county.

In accord with a policy established last year the Alliance agreed to spend up to $1,500 to send one person to the Governor’s Conference on Tourism to be held in Madison from Sunday, March 17 through Wednesday, March 20. Darge said she is going as a representative of the Chamber, and to questions from members did not know if there would be an opportunity to car pool. She said she would not make convention arrangements or lodging reservations for the Alliance representative. They would have to handle that on their own, and then turn in receipts for after-the-fact reimbursement of expenses. If you go, you’re on your own, she said. Consensus of the committee was that the $1,500 was for only one member, and two members could not share the Alliance support and go as a team.

Late in the meeting discussion turned to the future of the Alliance. Proposals on the table so far include the contract with the Marinette/Menominee Chamber of Commerce, which in turn employs Tourism Director Jamie Darge and publishes the County Tourist Guide; a suggestion from County Administrator Ellen Sorensen to set the Alliance up as a 501(3)(C) nonprofit corporation with paid memberships; eliminating the Alliance and handling tourism promotion directly through Marinette County Board’s Economic Development and Tourism Committee (currently the parent group of the Alliance), and the possibility some other entity, such as a public relations firm, would take on responsibility for Marinette County tourism.

The Alliance originally was set up through Marinette county Association for Business and Industry as a partnership between Marinette County and its municipalities and privately owned tourist-related businesses, with the intent of harnessing the energy and experience of the tourism professionals and promote cooperative events and advertising that would maximize the impact of promotional dollars provided by the county

Currently all Alliance funding comes from Marinette County, which this year provided a $95,000 budget allocation from proceeds of the half a percent county sales tax.

The current contract with the Marinette Chamber expires at the end of 2013, and Darge indicated they feel the compensation from the county is not enough to cover expenses.


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