A proposal to add another year to a tourism marketing contract with the Branson chamber will head to another vote for the Branson Board of Aldermen.
The aldermen’s initial vote resulted in a tie, with Kevin McConnell, Larry Milton and Rick Castillon voting for the measure, and Brian Clonts, Bob Simmons and Bill Skains voting against it. Due to the tie, Mayor Edd Akers provided the deciding vote in favor of the measure, but later indicated he made his vote in error.
“We’re going to re-vote a second time around, then I can change it then,” Akers said, referring to the final vote that will most likely take place at the next aldermen meeting July 10.
If the amendment receives final approval, according to Branson Director of Finance Jamie Rouch, the contract with the Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce and CVB would be extended through Dec. 31, 2020, to allow for more time to develop a request for proposal for the next five-year contract.
In 2014, the city approved a contract with the CVB that began in 2015 and is currently set to end Dec. 31, 2019.
Milton said he has concerns about the chamber and would want to hire an outside analyst to present to the board on issues they might be missing.
“My guess is we’re not going to handle numbers one, two, and three, and call it a day and say we’re good with this,” Milton said. “I think it’s much deeper than that.”
Jeff Seifried, president and CEO of the CVB, asked for aldermen to deny the motion so as not to disrupt timing with the Branson/Lakes Area Tourism Community Enchantment District, which also has a similar contract with the CVB.
Seifried also said the chamber has begun to address some of the concerns brought up by Milton.
“One was having a live shows tab on the website. That’s been in place now for a week,” Seifried said. “The second is having a community discussion on what companies are allowed to advertise on explorebranson.com.”
Seifried said the chamber goes through an annual review each year, with the results shown at a community marketing presentation.
“It reviews the marketing effectiveness,” Seifried said. “We’d be happy to present that again to this board if you’d like.”
When asked what information he would be asking an expert to find, Milton said it’s important for the board to gather all possible information before making a decision.
“When the previous boards worked on the 76 project, the board was making the best decisions they could with the information they had,” Milton said, referring to a 76 rehabilitation project that is only partially completed due to a lack of funds. “In hindsight, if we would’ve taken a little more time with a little more information, the board wouldn’t have voted on some of the things they voted on.
“It behooves us to have an expert, someone who understands this field, share with this board, and then let’s make a decision.”
Both Skains and Simmons expressed concern about upsetting the timing between the CVB and the Tourism Community Enhancement District. TCED collects a 1 cent sales tax in a district that primarily covers Branson, Indian Point, Silver Dollar City, the Showboat Branson Belle and Table Rock State Park Marina. The TCED contracts with the Branson/Lakes Area Convention and Visitors Bureau to market the area.
“I would not vote to do anything to upset the balance put in place 12 years ago,” Skains said. “It’s worked, it’s worked for us, I don’t want to see it go back to the way it was before.”
Milton said desynchronizing the two boards may cause issues, but he believes the alternative is worse.
“Worst case scenario, it’s far less damaging to have those two on different time lines, than these issues that are dramatically affecting our tourism dollars,” Milton said.