Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Mt. CB withdraws $18K in summer admissions tax grants

Promises a more clear process in the future

By Katherine Nettles

In a follow-up to the 2019 summer admission tax grants, which were approved in late winter, the Mt. Crested Butte Town Council reconsidered its decision to award an additional $18,000 to Travel Crested Butte in order to work with four non-profit entities on marketing campaigns.

The decision came after several discussions among the council, and from feedback from the non-profit entities involved that the expectations for the grant funding were unclear and in some cases inconsistent with the applicants’ requests.

Four non-profit entities— Crested Butte Nordic, Crested Butte DEVO, the Crested Butte Arts Festival and the Crested Butte Wildflower Festival—had been directed to collaborate with Josh Futterman of Travel Crested Butte to create video production and other marketing materials to consolidate grant funding efforts and reducing overlap.

The collaborations between Futterman and the four non-profits could amount to as much as $18,000, but it was unclear whether each non-profit was to match the funds 50/50, or if the grant required no match. The council could not agree on what the requirements should be, and ultimately decided to withdraw the funds for lack of clarity.

Councilmember Lauren Daniel asked Futterman about any contact he had had with the other entities since the group’s work session, and he responded that he had reached out to and met with each of them.

Councilmember Roman Kolodziej discussed the concept as former mayor Todd Barnes had suggested it on behalf of the admissions tax grant committee.

“I like the fact that he was trying to consolidate … to reduce waste and misuse from funds. It obviously wasn’t very clear in terms of distribution,” Kolodziej said. “Josh wasn’t consulted beforehand. It doesn’t seem fair to ask groups to match funds—it was a pretty muddy directive.”

Councilmember Steve Morris said he had initially agreed that it would be best to withdraw the $18,000 in question, but hearing from Futterman had changed his mind a bit.

“The difference is that he has worked with all three of those entities before. We’ve never worked with Travel Crested Butte,” said DEVO director Amy Nolan. “We have a marketing strategy, ad buy … If I’m going to be using matching funds, I would like to be able to continue along the path we started that Meyvn [Productions} created.”

Christie Hicks from Crested Butte Nordic commented as well that she had not requested marketing funds, but rather shuttling funds for the Summer Grand Traverse event. “This is an event between Crested Butte and Aspen … and every single one of those shuttles is meant to facilitate racers either staying in Crested Butte or coming back there. And we received money for those the year before.

“That gives us a much greater opportunity to promote Mt. Crested Butte,” Hicks continued. “We actually had that last year, and used Meyvn as well… If you want us to keep working with Josh, and promoting, we can. We’re happy to do that, but that wasn’t what we were asking for.”

Farmer asked if the shuttle last year was for local racers. A discussion of whether the shuttles do involve encouraging racers to stay in Mt. Crested Butte followed.

“It is a boost,” said Futterman, “to at least help the event through this circular fashion.”

The council reviewed what had been granted aside from the addition of the $18,000 collaboration award. Crested Butte DEVO had been granted $3,500, the Crested Butte Wildflower Festival was granted $2,500 for marketing materials, Crested Butte Nordic was granted $4,000 for entertainment at its after-party following the event and the Crested Butte Arts Festival received no grant. Those decisions will remain in place.

The council further discussed the misunderstanding about the Crested Butte Nordic application and party entertainment versus shuttles.

“I personally disagree because with three of [the applicants], progress has been made. But with one of them, no progress has been made,” said Lehnertz. “My logic is that not everyone has benefited from [the grant].”

“I feel like it would be a mistake for us and a precedent to change anything,” said mayor Janet Farmer.

“We need to give a lot of direction,” said Kolodziej, regarding the option of keeping the award in place.

Councilmember Nicholas Kempin pointed out that it would get complicated if applicants were awarded grants outside of those for which they had applied.

“All of these applicants are supposed to come back and report to us, and conform to the application as written,” said Kempin. He suggested that would be problematic when, for instance, Crested Butte Nordic didn’t want money for media.

As it became clear the council was uncomfortable with the grant as it had been approved, Lehnertz suggested that they at least compensate Futterman for the time he had given to meeting and planning with the other entities. Daniel asked if they were compensating other organizations for their time as well.

The council approved a motion to withdraw the $18,000 in additional grant funds, and to compensate all parties involved for their “time wasted,” as Lehnertz referred to it.

“I would like to apologize to all the entities for the way this has all been handled,” said Farmer, promising that the council would carefully consider the process and make it much cleaner in the future.

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