Look at effectiveness of TA due this fall
The Gunnison-Crested Butte Tourism Association (TA) is due for a look in the mirror. At the prompting of the Gunnison Valley Local Marketing District (LMD), the TA’s overseeing board, the valley’s marketing arm will submit to a self-assessment sometime this fall.
Members of the TA board of directors made the request for the assessment to the LMD board, which is the Board of County Commissioners, at a meeting on Tuesday, August 17, with the intention of getting a better look at the organization’s structure and performance.
TA director Jane Chaney told the LMD that the cost of the assessment shouldn’t be more than $15,000 and that the TA would submit invoices to the LMD, instead of taking the sum from the LMD and paying their expenses out of that.
“That way everything is clear public record, separate from the budget revenues we receive monthly from the LMD,” Chaney said.
TA board member Stephen Perotti said at a recent work session, “The question was whether the money [for the self-assessment] should all come from the LMD reserves or a combination of the TA budget and fund reserves. And the consensus of head nodding among the board members was that it was appropriate that the LMD fund the request in its entirety.”
Once the funding is in place, it will take the TA about a month to pick potential consulting firms, send out a request for proposals (RFPs) and get them back. Then they would need a week to select the firm; the process would take between 10 days and two weeks.
“It would be great to get it done before we go into our work plan and budget presentation to you in November,” Chaney said, agreeing that the assessment would be useful in looking for ways to improve the budgeting process.
The question of the TA’s involvement in the assessment also came up after Chaney said she thought the process would be more efficient if the TA dealt with the consultants directly, instead of using the county staff or LMD as an intermediary.
Even county manager Matthew Birnie said that if the LMD asked the county staff to manage the process, “We would write up and sign the contract and then put them in touch with the TA.”
But LMD board member Jim Starr said he was still concerned that the perception might be that the process is tainted if the TA is too closely involved.
“The comment was made about how the reason we’re doing this is because, it’s no secret, there’s been some debate about the effectiveness of the TA,” Starr said. “I’m wondering if there are people out there who might say, ‘If the TA is involved in the process, it might not be an objective process.’ But I haven’t heard that yet.”
But Chaney thought that the LMD reauthorization, which passed last November with 73 percent voter approval, spoke to the public’s confidence in the effectiveness of the TA and said, “After we send out the RFPs and the RFP is selected, we’re just giving them what they ask for.
“Whether or not we manage the process is entirely up to you,” she said, adding, “We would obviously be sending out the RFPs.”
While the details of the assessment process still have to be worked out, the LMD board voted to authorize up to $15,000 of the reserve fund to contract for the assessment and asked that the RFPs be sent out as soon as possible.