Johns Creek abandons the town’s tourist office; the mayor opposes his veto
“Just when I thought this board couldn’t reach a new low (we’re) here,” Zaprowski said of the vote.
Bodker said he plans to veto the move, which would allow the measure to be reconsidered by the new city council and the mayor in January.
“…. I hope the new city council keeps them in place,” Bodker told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Tuesday.
The mayor said he would make a final decision before the next regular city council meeting on November 29.
“It’s completely silly that it’s even considered brought in internally,” Bodker said. “It’s not the way things are done across the state.”
Elwood said she supported the decision to cut the organization because she believed the dysfunctional relationship started with the current city council and should end there as well.
The Convention and Visitors Bureau, which is funded by about a third of the city’s annual hotel / motel tax revenue, and council members Endres and Elwood have been at odds for over a year over a mutual lack of trust and transparency.
CVB attorney Monica Gilroy said the organization had to end 90 days’ notice, meaning the new city council could still re-establish the partnership in January, even without the mayor’s veto.
The story of the discord dates back to 2020 when Elwood told the organization Endres would advise council to stop funding the city unless the nonprofit has changed its bylaws to say it is an agent of the city and made voting changes to comply with the state’s open meetings law. The message was passed without the knowledge of Bodker and the other board members, leading Elwood to issue a letter of apology.
The Convention and Visitors Bureau changed its bylaws as a gesture of good faith to show that its meetings are conducted in accordance with the Open Meetings Act, Gilroy said, adding that the organization’s meetings are still open to the public. But Endres maintains that the CVB does not document all of its closed-door meetings. The office filed an ethics complaint against Endres last April.
Johns Creek spokesman Bob Mullen said by email Tuesday that the ethics hearing official found no violations in the complaint that would call for disciplinary action from city council and that she was rejected.
The visitors’ office receives less than $ 500,000 per year in tax revenue from the three hotels operating in Johns Creek, said Smith, CVB chairman. It’s the smallest budget of Atlanta’s metro drop-in centers, she added.
She and Bradberry, who will begin her tenure as mayor in January, have different views on the economic benefits of integrating tourism activities into City Hall.
Bradberry said Johns Creek could make better use of the funds that would go to the convention and visitors bureau, and his priority is the new downtown plans for the city.
“It was completely a business decision,” Bradberry told AJC.
The Convention and Visitors Bureau operates with two part-time workers and seven board members as volunteers, Smith said. “We’ve always been very light… and strategic when it comes to budgeting and marketing,” Smith said.
Bringing tourism operations in-house wouldn’t save the city money, Smith said. The city would have to legally create a 501c (6) business organization to distribute hotel / motel tax funds and the costs of hiring full-time staff to perform the same operations would be higher than what the tourist board is currently. expenses, she said.
Endres said the city has set up an administration to manage tourism activities and savings could be made in places such as the Macedonian African Methodist Church Cemetery or Cauley Creek Park.
In public comments at Monday’s meeting, Smith said the volunteer tourism board members collectively have over 100 years of marketing and hospitality experience that cannot be matched by the city.
“It’s a shame for our city and for who we are, and our neighbors are laughing at us,” she said.
Bodker told AJC that overall he viewed the move against the visitors’ bureau as “disgusting” and a “kick in the stomach” for the organization’s volunteers.