The city of Branson’s tourism marketing contact with the Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce and CVB will be extended one year, through 2020.
Aldermen voted 4-2 to approve the amendment, with Larry Milton, Rick Castillon, Kevin McConnell and Brian Clonts voting in favor, and Bill Skains and Bob Simmons voting against.
According to Branson Director of Finance Jamie Rouch, the contract with the Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce and CVB will 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 was currently set to end Dec. 31.
Milton said the extension will give the board time to hire an outside analyst to present the board with issues they might be missing in the contract.
“What is the downside of stepping back, taking a pause and bringing in somebody to provide us some guidance?” Milton said. “We’ve heard tonight from businesses who are hurting, our trends don’t look good. I don’t know what the rush is, there’s no rush to sign a five-year contract.
“Discover some of these things that are, in my opinion, negatively affecting our community.”
McConnell said he supported Milton’s effort, saying there are still questions that need answered.
“My vote to support this isn’t an indictment, necessarily, on how the dollars are spent,” McConnell said. “Alderman Milton has brought up some incredible questions. I was really hoping we would get them all answered early enough so this would not be necessary, but unfortunately, that hasn’t happened.”
Both Skains and Simmons said their vote against the effort was due to viewing the issue as a contractual one, rather than one in a request for proposal.
“Somewhere down the line when we’re down roughly on our tourism tax district, 6.1% on one and 14.7% on the other and my brothers and sisters in the theatre business are down 22.4%,” Skains said. “I think it needs attention to the contract, I don’t see extending the RFP is going to do that.”
“I think we should have it renewable annually, therefore we could stop it after one year, we could stop it after two years,” Simmons said. “I would rather see us put out this request but rewrite our contract at this time, to correct some of the things we’re talking about.”
Aldermen also discussed making sure to talk with the Branson/Lakes Area Tourism Community Enchantment District, which has a similar contract with the CVB.
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.
“My thought is, if we extended this one year, to get it back in sync we would do a four-year contract,” Milton said. “I also believe when the TCED sees this board passed this bill to extend it for a year, I think the logical next step is to talk to the TCED board and say ‘We put this off for a year, obviously, the TCED board sees the importance of these contracts being in sync.’ Then logic says they’ll say, ‘to keep this in sync, let’s extend ours for a year.”
The TCED and CVB have scheduled an informal joint board meeting for 9 a.m. Friday.