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Chamber wants $30K in HOT funds for salary
by Gary Kent
Mar 03, 2014 | 86 views | 0 0 comments | 25 25 recommendations | email to a friend | print
BEEVILLE – City Attorney Frank Warner said he wants to review a proposed agreement presented by Bee County Chamber of Commerce board before he makes a recommendation on approving a contract with the organization for the use of hotel and motel tax funds (HOT funds) collected by the city.

Warner explained to the council that he wanted to study some parts of the contract shortly after Chamber board member Tom Beasley made a presentation concerning the proposed agreement.

Beasley introduced Keith Arnold, a former executive director for the Corpus Christi Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Beasley said Arnold was interested in taking the reins of the chamber as its executive director. The attorney explained that the chamber board had prepared a $280,000 budget and that the organization would like to negotiate a new agreement with the city for the use of HOT funds to promote tourism in Bee County.

Warner has told the council in the past that state law requires that HOT funds be used to “put heads in beds” in local hotels and motels.

The previous agreement between the city and the chamber resulted in the city pulling its HOT funds agreement with the council because some of that money reportedly had been used to pay salaries at the chamber.

Warner said he had questions about the proposed agreement after Beasley said that about $30,000 of the HOT funds it was requesting would be used to supplement a $50,000 budgeted item for the salary of an executive director.

Beasley said Arnold was imminently qualified for the director’s position.

Beasley called the budget presented to the CofC board “generic” because the organization had no staff to prepare a proper spending plan.

“We would like to get Keith on board and prepare a more appropriate budget,” the attorney told the council.

Beasley said he had studied the HOT funds contracts of other chambers of commerce, and they were similar. Only the agreements he had looked at involved larger communities.

Councilman George P. “Trace” Morrill, also an attorney, asked Warner if it would be possible for the council to approve a commitment for the chamber so it could go ahead with its plan to hire Arnold. Then a formal contract could be worked out later.

But Warner said he would rather work out a final agreement for the council to consider before any action could be taken.

Beasley then said he would like to have Arnold on board at the chamber during any contract discussions.

Mayor David Carabajal recommended that the council might want to call a special meeting next week.

But Warner said he thought he could write a counterproposal for Beasley, and then the two of them could sit down and come up with an agreement that would satisfy both parties.

Interim City Manager Marvin Townsend said he also had seen some items in the agreement that he wanted to “clean up.”

“I fully understand that the council wants to do this,” Warner said. He then suggested that he and Townsend meet soon and draw up a counterproposal for Beasley to review.

Warner told the council that he expects a final agreement to be ready for the council to review and possibly approve by the time it meets again on March 11.

Morrill then made a motion to authorize Warner and Townsend to finalize an agreement with Beasley and present it to the council at its next meeting.

Councilwoman Libby Spires seconded the motion, and it passed without opposition.

In other business, the council voted to:

— Officially call for the election of council representatives for Wards 2, 3 and 4.

Those wards currently are represented by Councilman Santiago “Jimbo” Martinez, Mayor David Carabajal and Councilman John Fulghum.

The filing deadline for the election is at 5 p.m. Friday, Feb. 28.

— Modify an agreement with Texstar Midstream Utility for an easement across Veterans Memorial Park for a pipeline.

Townsend said the work is essentially complete.

— Approve ordinances calling for the establishment of new fees for city services, the rezoning of property within the Lacks, Knight and Radcliff Tract within the city from first one-family business district to a secondary and highway business district, the installation of a crosswalk in the 1100 block of West Stamper Street and for addressing fees for water drilling permits within the city.

— Award the purchase of special valves for the city’s water system that will allow city utility crews to work on water lines without interrupting the service to customers.

— Authorize the Beeville Police Department to purchase 11 off-line flex camera systems and mounting equipment and 11 flex jacket glasses for the BPD Special Weapons and Tactics Team.

Also, the council heard a report from Townsend explaining that his office had received 30 applications from prospective candidates for the city manager’s office, on recent efforts to approve an electric power supply contract with a provider of that service and the latest developments on seeking repayment of money spent from a federal grant on a proposed assisted living project north of the city.

Gary Kent is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 120, or at reporter@mySouTex.com.
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