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November 24, 1998
Commissioners' Conference Room 12:00 Noon Main Floor

Commissioner Ellie Dumdi presided with Commissioners Bobby Green, Sr., Peter Sorenson and Cindy Weeldreyer present. Steve Cornacchia was excused. County Administrator Bill Van Vactor and Recording Secretary Melissa Zimmer was also present.

I. Introduction

Commissioner Dumdi introduced members of the Board of Commissioners and turned the meeting over to John Erickson, President of Board of Directors of CVALCO.

Erickson introduced CVALCO's Board of Directors.

II. Brief History and Distribution of Room Tax

Erickson gave a policy history of room tax. He said the transit room tax was enacted in 1973 when the tax was at five percent and in 1986 it went to six percent. He added in 1992, there was an increase of 2% so there would be more solid funding for CVALCO. He said that figure was computed after working with the County Commissioners and the Cities of Eugene and Springfield. He said local lodging at this point is at 9.5%. He added that that figure is the highest in the state. He said those funds have been used for marketing of overnight stays.

Kari Westlund, CVALCO, gave a presentation and passed out copies on Room Tax. (See copy in file.)

III. Status of the Industry

Green inquired as to the type of jobs that were created and what the rate of pay was.

Erickson replied the largest department is banquet (or food and beverage) and currently the wage is $13.00 per hour. (With the gratuities they receive.) He added according to state tourism, the average hourly rate for hospitality employees is $9.50 per hour.

Dumdi questioned what the housekeeping staff made on average.

Erickson stated housekeeping positions start at minimum wage but there are major benefit packages and advancement opportunities. He added their average wages are $3.00 per hour over minimum wage.

IV. CVALCO Performance Measures

Kari Westlund reported each year CVALCO makes up a marketing plan which contains a wide variety of measurements. She added the most important was room nights booked. She said there has been an increased level of funds from room nights booked. She said with regard to visitor services, it is determined by the amount of people being served by phone, mail, mobile van and convention marketing components. She said that there are 370 members of CVALCO across the county. She reported that expenditures have grown by 30% since 1991, jobs have increased 18 per cent, local tax is up 58% and there has been interest in new businesses joining CVALCO. She added the marketing programs are providing increased returns and for the first quarter this year, they were doing very well.

Westlund stated that with the state of the business, when economy is growing, people do a lot of travel and when the economy is down, business declines. She added CVALCO needs to work hard to impact market segments as occupancy is coming down statewide. She said travel from California and Canada has been off this year. She said she feels aggressive marketing is critical for Lane County to be successful in obtaining tourists. She also said that CVALCO needs to be more proactive with regard to air service. She said they have been involved in meetings with Mike Boggs of the airport.

V. Questions and Discussion

Green said CVALCO hadn't embarked on a conversation about mutual interest and booking business, as what is currently in the budget. He said there needs to be a commitment as to what the mutual issues are and to set the ground work for future board sessions. He said it was appropriate to start having discussions on a semi-annual basis. He added he was interested in having CVALCO being a catalyst in terms of initiating an annual regional type of event, conducive to outdoor and athletic events.

Sorenson said he would like a meeting to impart information regarding performance standards. He said he was concerned with the transition of the new Board. He said there will be new ideas with new perspectives of performance. He said there should be more gross revenues to members, their properties and businesses. He said he was interested in detail and was inclined to favor distribution of the revenue. He added it can be helpful to CVALCO in expanding a network of people looking for business for the community. He recommended CVALCO visiting with the new commissioners and city councilors.

Dumdi stated it would be timely to have a joint meeting in Spring.

Green said he wanted to see CVALCO have discussions about other kinds of employment, including participation in moving toward the goal of youth. He said it would be a good opportunity to create a partnership with Lane Community College with curriculum that would expand into the hospitality and tourism industry.

Mike Gleason, Fair Board, said he would be excited to participate in a learning institution on or off-site to provide jobs for youth. He also stated that the fairgrounds is at a disadvantage not having a facility they could bring amateur sports into. He said the City of Eugene is interested in using the complex at Westmoreland, and Amazon, to create a Delta Park with Kidsports and market it as a unit. He said there needs to be a focal point, an ability to fill rooms and have venues used for recreation.

Sorenson stated at the AOC's convention, there was a presentation on the relationship between marketing for arts and the benefits of the resulting revenue going to local government. He said they discussed different perspectives on how to spend the money for. He said there could be a straight percentage to get visitors to Lane County and then other money as a function of a budgeting process to support youth issues.

Bill Van Vactor, County Administrator, stated the decision in the Lane Code states revenue that shall be used for the marketing industry is 70%. He said it didn't say that CVALCO would get the same revenue as last year. He recommended that amount be increased, with $55,000 being held for that purpose, but not automatically to CVALCO.

Erickson asked to take into consideration the original intent. He said the agreement was with marketing overnight stays, specifically to solidify funding.

Westlund stated they accepted the legal interpretation and it surprised her when it was put forward. She said they were honoring the 70-10-10 allocation. She added there is uncertainty and concern that perhaps a policy decision needs to be reinstated.

Dumdi stated that could take place with the new Board after the first of the year.

Ronald W. Gladney, President of Lane County Lodging Association read a letter into the record. (Copy in file).

Van Vactor said the tax is for the industry.

Gladney stated the industry asked to market itself and with self-preservation, businesses will economically grow.

There being no further business, Commissioner Dumdi recessed the meeting to reconvene at 1:30 p.m.

Melissa Zimmer
Recording Secretary

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