City, Chamber really need to come to terms for all our sakes
by Jeff Latcham
Jul 06, 2012 | 1095 views | 0 0 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The news that the Bee County Chamber of Commerce and the City of Beeville have failed to reach an agreement on use of the Hotel Occupancy Tax funds is a loss for all Bee County.

Central to the argument is the 90-day termination wording in the contract. It has historically said that either party could end the contract with 90 days notice for any reason.

The Chamber understandably would like that changed to be only “for cause,” i.e. something done illegally or in violation of the contract. The city, also understandably, doesn’t want to incorporate “for cause” language because it’ll more than likely force the city to go to court to prove the violations and cost the tax-payers money.

Caught in the middle are the citizens of Bee County who have relied – often unknowingly – on the Chamber to provide tourism information and services to thousands of out-of-towners every year. It’s not sexy stuff like throwing festivals and parades that draw folks to the community, but it takes material, postage, and above all labor to answer the phones, greet the visitors and return the requests.

Beeville and Bee County are not wealthy. The per capita income here is half the state average. So we really shouldn’t be wasting money on redundant services, which is what will happen if the Chamber and City cannot come to terms.

The City will have to hire its own tourism department to deal with requests and when has government delivered any service more efficiently than the private sector? Chambers are the first source of economic and tourism information in most small towns and cities, so that’s where people go to find such things. Beeville should not be confused with San Antonio.

While the Chamber rightly would like to avoid being whipsawed by the whims and egos of politicians, this is not a contract between two private parties. By law, the City is charged with distributing those HOT funds and no where in that law does it say the Chamber is to be the designated recipient of it.

Even without the “for cause” language, the Chamber does have recourse if the City Council yanks the contract for egregious reasons. It’s called voting the sorry nitwits out. This is still America and politicians respond to electoral pressure.

These negotiations have drug on for nearly a year now and were seemingly settled toward the end of 2011. Then the Chamber underwent its annual change of officers and negotiations apparently started anew.

We would hope cooler heads prevail and consider the larger picture: The City needs the Chamber to handle tourism and the Chamber needs the HOT funds to do that. Any other course is likely a waste of money.
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