Getting more people to visit - and spend money in - Rifle will be the responsibility of the Rifle Area Chamber of Commerce again this year.
City Council voted 5-0, with Councilmembers Randy Winkler and Jennifer Sanborn absent on Jan. 2, to accept a $57,300 advertising proposal from the chamber over another proposal from Colorado Mountain News Media, the owners of The Citizen Telegram.
City Manager John Hier noted this was the first time the city had sought proposals for the use of the city lodging tax funds. A 2.5 percent lodging tax was passed by voters in 2007 and went into effect in January 2008 to help promote the city to visitors. The chamber had been given those promotional responsibilities in recent years.
"It turned out to be a long and complicated process," Hier said.
The Visitor Improvement Fund advisory board solicited proposals in October, he noted. The board reviewed the proposals and interviewed both groups, and then requested changes in each group's proposal. After reviewing the resubmittals, the board recommended the city accept the proposal from the chamber, Hier said.
"They decided the chamber proposal was more representative of what they wanted," he added.
The board asked the chamber to add two items to their marketing plan, Hier said: A "come, play and stay in Rifle" promotional package and promotion of the Rifle Creek Golf Course.
City Attorney Jim Neu said Rifle's relatively low budget to advertise and promote the city limited the response.
"We tried to get the most bang for the buck, but I think we also need to consider the level of expertise needed to do a real campaign," Neu added. "Right now, we don't have the funds for that."
Councilman Keith Lambert noted the city cut the promotional budget from $75,000 last year.
"It really isn't a very big advertising budget," Hier agreed.
In related action, City Council approved an ordinance amending the municipal code to allow Rifle business owners and their representatives who do not live in the city limits to be members of the Visitor Improvements Fund Advisory Board.
Previously, all but one of the seven-member board had to be city residents and business owners or representatives, which left several positions vacant, Hier said.
The board had four vacant positions, three for a regular member and one alternate member. After advertising the vacancies, the city received two applicants: Sara Brainard and Sean Strode. City Council approved their appointments, leaving two more vacancies to fill.