Commissioner calls for Chattanooga Convention and Visitors Bureau to adopt county expense policies

Commissioner calls for Chattanooga Convention and Visitors Bureau to adopt county expense policies

June 14th, 2017 by Paul Leach in Breaking News

CVB President Bob Doak speaks to the Hamilton County Commission.

Photo by Paul Leach /Times Free Press.

The Hamilton County Commission

The Hamilton County Commission

Photo by Paul Leach /Times Free Press.

Hamilton County Commissioner Tim Boyd would like to see the Chattanooga Convention and Visitors Bureau use county procurement and travel policies.

Boyd introduced a resolution today which would require any nonprofit organization who receives county money exceeding 25 percent of its annual operating budget to not only adopt those policies, but also have a county commissioner serve on its board.

"There shouldn't be any problem with an organization adopting either of those policies, and there shouldn't be any issue with a commissioner sitting on the board of those organizations receiving that significant amount of money," Boyd said.

He cited the CVB, an agency he has repeatedly criticized in recent months, as an example.

The organization has received 100 percent of the county's hotel-motel tax revenues for the last 10 years. In 2017, that amounted to $7.8 million. The figure is projected to reach $8.2 million in 2018, according to the latest county budget proposal.

At least 80 percent of CVB funding comes from the county. The other 20 percent includes state money and membership fees.

Bob Doak, CVB's president and CEO, could not be reached for comment.

Boyd recently sparred with Doak over travel-related expenses, claiming the CVB spent over $300,000 in fiscal 2014, citing the agency's income tax return. The agency only spent $120,000 that year, Doak said. 

Doak also defended long-range travel expenses, stating CVB sometimes has to go outside the South to bring in events and conferences, even if most of the city's visitors come from withing a 150-mile range.

At the heart of Boyd's conflict with the agency is Doak's refusal to publicly release financial "working papers," which officials say are protected under state law.

Boyd has also said he would like to cut the agency's revenue stream and put the money to other tourism uses.