Some members of the Waupaca Common Council want to know how the city has benefited from a county tourism project before agreeing to contribute additional funds to it.
“I’d like to see what the project did for the city of Waupaca over the last couple years,” Ald. Deb Fenske said during the council’s Dec. 17 meeting.
She said the Waupaca Area Chamber of Commerce and city are both active in promoting tourism and questions what the county project has done that the Chamber and city have not already done.
Her comments were made after the council voted to not contribute $3,240 toward the Waupaca County Tourism Project in 2014.
Steve Hackett, Paul Hagen, Alan Kjelland and John Lockwood voted to contribute the funds, while Fenske, Eric Olson, Jillian Petersen, Scott Purchatzke and Dave Shambeau voted to not do so.
Ald. Paul Mayou was present but as council president, had to run the meeting for Mayor Brian Smith, who was absent. That meant Mayou did not vote.
Later in the meeting, the council voted to reconsider that vote at a future meeting.
That was after council members, such as Hackett, said next year marks the third year of the county tourism project – a project the city participated in with other municipalities.
Lockwood asked if the city had committed to three years of funding.
“It was a year-to-year thing. Tourism is the third largest industry in the county,” said City Administrator Henry Veleker.
Hagen agreed with Hackett that it would be a mistake to not continue being part of the consortium.
Veleker said the council could ask for more information regarding the project.
“I’m not against getting information from the county,” Shambeau said.
Veleker said, “I think it’s a real black eye to not participate.”
The city is one of eight municipalities which has participated in the project for two years. The others are Clintonville, Fremont, Iola, Manawa, Marion, New London and Weyauwega.
The project will cost $48,000 in 2014.
A third year of grant funding has been received from the Wisconsin Department of Tourism for the project. The grant will cover 25 percent of the project’s cost, or $12,000.
A July 31 memo about the project was included in the council packet for its Dec. 17 meeting.
The memo was to the mayors, village presidents and boards and common councils of all the participating municipalities.
It was from David Thiel, executive director of the Waupaca County Economic Development Corporation, and Mike Koles, of the Waupaca County UW-Extension office.
In that memo, they wrote about the Department of Tourism’s Joint Effort Marketing Grant.
The program the county has participated in is known as the Destination Marketing Program.
The first year of the grant was dedicated to researching the market, establishing a brand and logo and then crafting a strategic marketing plan.
The second year was for launching the marketing plan. The plan for the third year is to continue the marketing campaign.
The memo concluded by telling those who have questions about the tourism project to contact either one of them.
They have presented updates about the project to the council.
For the city of Waupaca, the 2014 funds were proposed to come out of the $135,569.83 in room taxes the city collected from Oct. 1, 2012, through Sept. 30, 2013.
The city’s Room Tax Committee recommended doing so, but not all members of the council agreed.
Some wanted to use the $3,240 to distribute additional funds for tourism related projects through the city’s competitive grant process.
While the council waits to receive additional information about the county tourism project, it decided to give the following in grants: $7,328 to the Waupaca Historical Society, $13,230 to the Waupaca Curling Club and $5,496 to Arts on the Square.
The historical society requested $8,000, the curling club requested $20,000, and Arts on the Square requested $6,000.
Before the council voted unanimously to fund those grants from the city’s room tax, Shambeau said if the council is not satisfied with the information it receives about the county tourism project, it will use the $3,240 to advance additional funds to those three organizations.