KOFO Local News

County, tourism board near agreement on ending contract

Posted in Uncategorized by kofonews on September 20, 2016

OTTAWA — Despite some pointed comments Monday, the Franklin County Commission and the Convention and Visitors Board were close to an agreement to transfer the Visitors Information Center on the east side of Ottawa, as well as some tourism funds, to the county.  After being at odds with the tourism board, commissioners voted earlier this year to terminate the contract for county tourism efforts and offered a new contract to the Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce.  However, the present contract ends Sept. 30, with the new contract starting Jan. 1, leaving the last three months for the visitors center in limbo. The county can’t close or sell the center without refunding hundreds of thousands of dollars of a federal grant.  That also left the question of nearly $80,000 in tourism fund reserves.  Tourism board members said before they dissolve the board, they would use some of the money to wrap up three on-going tourism projects and pay final bills.  They also said they were willing to pay their remaining employee for three months to operate the visitors center, until the chamber took over.  The remainder of the money, which likely includes contributions from the city of Ottawa in earlier years, and money from the chamber, would be shared among tourism groups and efforts.  County officials said they were willing to agree to that.  Another $24,000, which came from the tourism tax, which is a special sales tax on motel beds, would be turned back to the county. Years ago, the chamber handled tourism efforts through the convention and visitors board until the county asked the chamber to spin off the board as an independent entity.

Tuesday, Sept. 20, 6 a.m.

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