411 West 8th Street, Medford, Oregon
1. Travel Medford
411 West 8th Street, Medford, Oregon
The Medford City Council Study Session was called to order at 6:00 p.m. in the Medford Room of the Medford City Hall on the above date with the following members and staff present:
Mayor Gary Wheeler; Councilmembers Clay Bearnson, Daniel Bunn, Chris Corcoran, Dick Gordon, Tim Jackle, Eli Matthews, Kevin Stine, Michael Zarosinski
City Manager Pro Tem Bill Hoke; City Attorney Lori Cooper; Deputy City Recorder Winnie Shepard
Mayor Wheeler noted that everyone had received copies of the contract with various additional documents. City Manager Pro Tem Bill Hoke explained that several meetings were held with the Chamber’s negotiating team to discuss this contract.
The following aspects of the contract were discussed:
- Modified to four-year term.
- Article 7 outlines the termination clause; which states the City can terminate for cause.
- Most of our contracts contain a 90-day or 180-day “out clause” with either party allowed to terminate.
- The City Manager would not terminate the contract without discussion and approval of Council.
- The current contract allows a 180-day termination by either party.
- Integration was clarified to mean this constitutes our entire agreement with the Chamber; nothing outside of this agreement.
- The revisions resolved Finance Director Alison Chan’s previous concerns regarding accountability.
The following concerns were discussed:
- Councilmember Bearnson noted his frustration with Travel Medford’s exclusion from the discussion and the Chamber directing Travel Medford. Spending of our tax dollars cannot be influenced by the Chamber and/or the Chamber’s political influence. In addition, the Chamber’s response to the side letter substantiated our concerns and did not address the payment of our tax dollars.
- Councilmember Bunn believed the language in the contract was insufficient to address all of his concerns. He stated it is the Council’s responsibility to ensure the best payment of tax dollars.
- Councilmember Corcoran believed paying transient lodging taxes to Travel Medford is the best payment of our tax dollars. He noted his disappointment in the situation and believed the increase in the transient lodging tax dollars should be credited to Travel Medford and the Chamber.
- Councilmember Jackle didn’t believe the Council should dictate how entities conduct business or advise them to re-organize. Councilmember Jackle questioned who directed the issuance of the side letter and recommended putting the topic to a vote.
- Councilmember Stine preferred the creation of our own contract. If Travel Medford won’t sign it, we find someone that will. Council should not work with entities we do not trust. If we want separation, it should be done now.
Separation of the Chamber and Travel Medford:
- Other cities began with a Chamber and separated the travel and tourism portion.
- Travel Medford only represents Chamber members.
- It is unclear who is actually running Travel Medford, because Vice President Anne Jenkins refers to Chamber Director Brad Hicks to answer questions. That implies a lot about the hierarchy of Travel Medford.
- The City could create a non-profit organization before July 1 and hire current Travel Medford employees. Councilmembers disagreed as to whether this would be possible within the timeline.
Management of Tax Dollars:
- We should change procedure before “handing out” tax payment money.
- We need to be upfront regarding who is managing our tax dollars.
- We should receive a document on a regular basis outlining the expenses paid with tax dollars. An annual report is provided to Ms. Chan, but it is an annual report and not an audited set of financials, it is on a different fiscal year, and it is not a stand-alone report.
Extending the Current Contract:
- How to resolve this in a timely manner if we approve extension.
- Concerns the contract will be postponed if extended for two years.
- We can extend the contract and cancel at any time with the 180-day notice.
- If we intend on using the cancellation clause, it should be clear to Travel Medford.
- Whether it is extended for one or two years, we should begin an immediate study.
- Councilmember Gordon noted he had already prepared a draft motion.
- We should consult with Travel Medford staff to determine the stop gap measures to get through any extension. In another 2 or 4 years, the same talent may not be available.
Creation of an Advisory Group:
- Should include Travel Medford staff.
- The City already has an advisory board: Travel Medford Advisory Board.
- We need direction for staff tonight regarding whether it will be extended one or two years.
- The Chamber will be invited to participate.
Councilmember Jackle noted the Charter requires us to do this. With any other contract, we would not hire on a low-bid basis; we would issue a RFQ and select the best candidate. Councilmember Bunn agreed that we should want the best candidate.
No Councilmember discredited the work performed by Travel Medford. Multiple Councilmembers noted their appreciation of Travel Medford’s effort in promoting tourism in southern Oregon and credited the agency with the increase in transient lodging tax revenue.
The meeting adjourned to the regular City Council meeting at 7:10 p.m.
Deputy City Recorder