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DeKalb council cuts funding for local partners by $10,000 each

January 30, 2019

DeKALB – Hot on the heels of four high-level city of DeKalb administrators being laid off, the city council has also approved a $10,000 reduction in funding each for three local partners.

During Monday’s council meeting, Brad Hoey, the president of the DeKalb County Convention and Visitors Bureau Board of Directors, made a final plea to the council regarding funding for the bureau. Hoey referenced a presentation made by the bureau’s executive director, Debbie Armstrong, in November, touting tourism numbers for the city and county.

“One of the things [Armstrong] mentioned was that almost $99 million was contributed through travel and tourism to the county in 2017,” Hoey said, also referencing a column he published in the Daily Chronicle Friday. “That’s the ninth year that number has steadily increased, and there’s no reason to think it will not continue to grow when we get the 2018 numbers.”

In light of DeKalb City Manager Bill Nicklas’ efforts to “right-size” the government, Nicklas recommended that annual funding for the bureau, the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce, and the DeKalb County Economic Development Corporation be reduced by $10,000 each, which council approved unanimously.

Funding that the visitor’s bureau receives from the city and other municipalities, including private donors, is matched dollar for dollar by the state, thus a funding cut is doubly impactful.

“This recommendation I’m making is in light of broader thinking,” Nicklas said. “It’s not just about what the CVB is doing today or tomorrow, and considering what [the city] is able to do.”

Vicky Torres, general manager of the Red Roof Inn & Suites, 1212 W. Lincoln Highway, and also a visitor’s bureau board member, echoed Hoey’s concern, but noted new taxes will soften the funding blow.

“Taking away $10,000 will have us lose $20,000, but with the [Hotel/Motel] tax increase [of 0.5 percent], it will bring us $15,000 or $16,000 more,” Torres said. “But it’s still going to be tough for everybody.”

Council had passed a deficit budget in December with funding amounts already decided upon, with the understanding that Nicklas could come in and edit monies with discretion.

Instead of the originally proposed $50,000 to the visitors bureau, the city will give a $40,000 grant instead, as approved by an 8-0 vote by council. Similarly, council voted to amend the annual funding for the chamber and economic development corporation to $35,000 each, instead of $45,000, also by a 8-0 vote.

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