October Called Board Meeting
Commissioners Present: Dhan Parekh, Chair, Paul Pierce, Vice Chair, Felicia Hamilton, Secretary/Treasurer, Elizabeth Barker, Immediate Past Chair, Shelley Dean, Charlie Desai, Ken Johnston, John Miller, and Donna Hix

Staff Present: Peter Bowden

Call to Order: The meeting was called to order at 3:40pm.

Staff provided each Board Member a copy of the Board Code of Ethics and Board Agreement to use as a guideline. The Columbus CVB/Phenix City Memorandum of Agreement (MOU) was also provided.

Open discussion was conducted on the effectiveness of the Columbus Sports Council and its accountability to the Board and how to improve this. The Board agreed that it was not getting enough information on a regular basis to determine if there was reasonable return on investment (ROI) with the funding provided through the contract for services for sports marketing with the Sports Council.

Throughout the discussion, the Board was reminded one of its primary functions is to protect the funding to the CVB.

Discussion continued on the funding mechanism established with the contract for services and the contract between the CVB and the Columbus Consolidated Government (CCG). The contract specifies that the CCG contracts with the CVB as the official destination marketing organization (DMO) for the CCG to promote tourism, trade shows, and tourism. The contract also specifies that the CVB will restrict 1% of the 4% funds generated from the hotel motel tax for sports marketing and will subcontract with the Columbus Sports Council. This was put into place when the hotel motel tax was increased from 7% to 8% [Staff Note: the CVB receives half or 4% of the total hotel motel tax; when the city petitioned to increase the tax to 8% it was understood, that the additional 1% was intended for sports marketing].

A consensus was reached, that because of the financial responsibility of the funding through the subcontract and the Board’s fiduciary obligation to report to the CCG when called upon to discuss the proper use of the funding, the Sports Council would be required to report on a regular basis information similar to the monthly reporting the CVB Staff presents to the Board.

The following are the items requested from the Sports Council for the regular November 2014 CVB Board Meeting:

The Board also suggested reviewing the contract between the Columbus Convention & Visitors Bureau and the CCG. [Staff NOTE: the contract was executed for a five-year term in 2009. Renewal is due in 2015]

The Board also requested that the City Auditor, John Redmond, conduct an “operational audit” of the Sports Council to assure that it was properly organized and met the minimum standards of an organization in receipt of public funds.

The Sports Council will also be asked to present its FY 2016 budget to the CVB Board at its (CVB) January 2015 meeting. This will allow the Board to review, make any necessary inquiries, and allow the Sports Council time to make adjustments. The Sports Council’s approved budget will be then become a part of the CVB’s budget and submitted for final approval at the February 2015 CVB Board Meeting and forwarded to the City as part of the FY 2016 budget process.

The discussion then moved to the topic of the Phenix City Hotel Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)

A representative from the CVB Sales Staff presented its case for the importance of the MOU (attached). After discussion and a general census that the MOU was necessary to avoid leakage of revenue, interruption of services, etc., the Board recommended meeting with the Columbus hotel owners and general managers, prior to the Board’s regular meeting in November, to provide a similar explanation and to address any concerns. Staff will provide a selection of dates for the Board to consider and once that has been agreed upon, a notice will be sent to arrange the meeting with the hotels. It was suggested that this meeting be kept to 30 to 45 minutes.

The meeting adjourned at approximately 5:40 PM.