City won’t seek bids
Citing the progress made by a new oversight board, Glenwood Springs City Council has reversed its plans to seek bids for its 2007 tourism marketing contract.Council’s 4-3 vote Thursday night guarantees that city spending to attract visitors to town will continue to be handled through the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association, at least through next year. The city has awarded the contract to the chamber for decades without putting it out for bids.Council’s decision Thursday further resolves differences that arose last year between the city and chamber over the chamber’s handling of the $500,000 contract, funded by a city lodging tax. Council had questioned how the chamber was spending the money, and even suggested it had overbilled the city. However, the city later dropped an investigation into the matter, with city and chamber officials saying the billing dispute came down to differences of opinion over muddy contract language.But council also had decided last year to seek proposals from other agencies interested in the marketing contract.”I’m going to be extremely disappointed if we don’t do that,” Mayor Bruce Christensen said Thursday night.He and council members Dave Johnson and Larry Beckwith said the city has a fiscal obligation to consider other proposals for spending the money.”I think if we were awarding a half-million-dollar contract to anybody … we would put it up for bid. I think the citizens would expect us to do so,” Johnson said.But others on council said a Tourism Marketing Board formed last year to monitor chamber expenditures has adequately addressed concerns surrounding the contract.Kjell Mitchell, chairman of that board and general manager of the Hot Springs Lodge & Pool, said the board supported council reversing its earlier decision to go out to bid on the contract.The board is made up of representatives of the city’s tourism industry. The chamber formed the board following industry complaints over how the funds were being spent.A resolution approved by the board said the chamber has given the board autonomy and authority to direct the allocation of the money, and awarding the contract to another agency would alienate local tourism business owners.Tom Jankovsky, general manager of Sunlight Mountain Resort, said the system of board oversight is working well.”You really have the leaders of tourism involved in this tourism committee right now,” he said.Council member Joe O’Donnell said it’s important for council to listen to industry representatives who think the contract should remain with the chamber.”They want it to stay where it is. Who are we to change that?” O’Donnell asked.He also said some problems with a half-million-dollar contract are inevitable, no matter what agency is in charge of it.The city has worked to tighten up the contract language to reduce disputes over spending of tourism funds.”We’ve had a big shakeup last year and I think it’s going to make us stronger,” council member Dave Merritt.Christensen said seeking bids would have enabled the city to hear different ideas about marketing the city to tourists.By not going out to bid, “all we’re talking about … is one more year of the same thing. I was hoping that we would look at it with new eyes,” he said.Beckwith said a bidding process might have been able to show that the chamber was the best group to do the city’s tourism marketing.Contact Dennis Webb: 945-8515, ext. firstname.lastname@example.org
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