Medford City Council Study Session
April 9, 2015
The meeting was called to order at noon in the Medford Room, City Hall, 411 W. 8th Street, Medford with the following members present.
Mayor Gary Wheeler; Councilmembers Dick Gordon, Clay Bearnson, Kevin Stine, Daniel Bunn, Eli Matthews, Michael Zarosinski, Tim Jackle and Chris Corcoran.
1. Travel Medford Contract: Alison Chan, Finance Director addressed the Council and presented information regarding the existing contract and items for discussion pertaining to the upcoming negotiation of a new contract. She noted the current contract expires on June 30, 2015. She presented information regarding the history of the transient lodging tax revenues.
She noted there were several points for Council discussion regarding the upcoming contract negotiations. These points were: Format for quarterly information; specify City purchasing rules must be followed; annual audit rather than “agreed upon procedures” language; support for U.S. Cellular Community Park; and the “use it or lose it” clause.
Ms. Chan questioned if the Council would like to have the Travel Medford contract require presentation of the quarterly report to be provided similar to how the City quarterly financials are presented. She noted that currently the Travel Medford reports have the finances presented by function without a separate breakdown showing the totals by Personal Services, Material & Services and Capital Outlay.
Councilmembers discussed and questioned if it was necessary to have other entities present information in the same way we do. Councilmember Gordon noted as the Council liaison he receives a monthly report and feels this information is adequate. Councilmembers discussed the issue and questioned if this was an accusation that the Chamber has been misusing the funds. Councilmember Bunn noted that is not the issue at all, he has not seen monthly information and would like to see the additional breakdown.
Ms. Chan requested Council input on the contract language be added that requires Travel Medford to follow City purchasing rules. Councilmembers discussed if this would be burdensome on Travel Medford and Ms. Chan noted that Travel Medford is currently following these rules in practice but this would add the language to the contract. Councilmembers discussed the rules and questioned if this would place an undue burden on Travel Medford.
Mayor Wheeler questioned how the staffing is broken out between the Chamber and Travel Medford. Brad Hicks, Executive Director of the Chamber addressed the Council and noted that there is some shared labor and that this is documented as a payroll transfer. This arrangement helps by sharing some of the overhead costs.
Ms. Chan addressed the third point of requiring an annual audit versus the “agreed upon procedures” language in the current contract. She noted that if an audit is required, there are tests that are done that would address the staffing breakout and contracting.
Councilmembers discussed the audit point and transparency issues that affect the use of public funds.
Ms. Chan addressed the point regarding if an amount should be included in the contract language specifically for use to promote U.S. Cellular Community Park. Mr. Hicks noted that the language in the contract does need to be cleaned up but that Travel Medford remains committed to support the activities and promotion of U.S. Cellular Park. He noted that they want to be responsive to the Council desires.
Ms. Chan addressed the “use it or lose it” clause in the current contract. Councilmembers discussed the pros and cons of this language and requested staff to work with the Travel Medford representatives to reach an agreeable solution on this language.
Ms. Chan then addressed the Council regarding the financial aspect of the contract. She noted the current contract provides 25% of the transient lodging tax revenue to Travel Medford. She noted that the Council has options to consider including implementing a cap and changing the percentage. She noted that by State law 25% of the total is to be dedicated to travel and tourism efforts. Councilmembers discussed the options to utilize some funding to support the Economic Improvement District/Metro Medford Downtown Association efforts.
Mr. Hicks noted that there are other options the Council could consider including accessing additional General Funds to provide a higher level of funding for the tourism efforts, similar to Bend.
Mayor Wheeler noted that there was a lot of information shared today and the Council will need to provide direction to staff on points for inclusion in the next contract.
Council discussed the various points for the contract. Staff was directed to meet with the Chamber to begin working through the points and to bring back a contract to Council.
The meeting adjourned at 1:40 p.m.