During the discussion on the topic, the city did offer some
changes to the current agreement document that they would like to
have. At the end of the discussion, the aldermen agreed to hold off
on any action item to give a special working group for the project
an opportunity to re-write the agreement with the requested changes.
The Logan County Tourism Bureau has a funding agreement with the
city of Lincoln which provides that the bureau will receive 85
percent of the total revenue collected from the Lincoln Hotel/Motel
Tax. That agreement, which had been established as temporary funding
is set to expire at the end of the year.
On Tuesday evening, City Administrator Clay Johnson introduced the
topic of renewing the agreement. He said that there had been a
special working group formed consisting of city and county
representation, as well as representatives from the Tourism Board,
to address some of the concerns about the bureau, and work through a
new contract with the city.
Johnson said one of the issues before the Tourism Bureau currently
is that they are once again without a full-time director. They need
to be completing their State Grant application, and hiring a
director must be done sooner rather than later.
As directed earlier in the year, Johnson has been looking into the
feasibility of the city taking over full ownership of the bureau,
making it a city entity, under the full governance of the city.
Questions had arisen about whether or not Tourism could keep its
“bureau” status if it were a city entity. Johnson said that it
could. The requirement would be, as it is now, for the Logan County
Board to sign-off for the grant application that the bureau serves
the entire county, not just the city of Lincoln. Johnson said that
he didn’t think that should be a problem, because it would be the
intent of the city to maintain the bureau for the good of the entire
Johnson said there were pros and cons to taking the bureau into the
city governance. He said in favor of taking the bureau, the tourism
staff would be included in the city’s employee benefit offerings,
and in general, the operating costs of the bureau might be reduced.
One of the largest concern for taking over the bureau would be
public perception. It was explained that there would be those who
might react negatively to the city having governance over a
As they discussed the renewal, Tracy Welch noted that there are some
things that the bureau needs to do, such as complete the draft of
the by-laws. He said in those by-laws, he felt it should be stated
that the city would have the final approval of board member
candidates. Steve Parrott who serves on the Bureau Board as a city
representative said he felt that the county should also be included
in that process. He said that the county is becoming more involved
again, and he wanted to see them stay involved.
It was also mentioned that though currently not required, the bureau
does hold open meetings. While it is working well to be doing this
voluntarily, it was suggested that holding open meetings be a
requirement, written into the contract.
Rick Hoefle spoke up saying that he would say that in this year, he
has “mellowed” in his position regarding the Tourism Bureau, but he
still has some issues. Some of the things that the city has asked
for have not been fully accomplished. He also wants the bureau to
concentrate more on the Route 66 aspect of tourism in Logan County.
It was discussed that once again this year, the bureau has been
thrown into flux, with things going on around them that have not
been in their control.
[to top of second column]
When the Logan County Alliance formed, the Tourism Bureau was included under the
umbrella of that organization. They shared space and staff costs with the
Lincoln/Logan County Chamber of Commerce. Now, the LCA has dissolved, the
Chamber and Tourism are now separate again, and the chamber is moving out of the
Fifth Street location.
Additionally, Maggie McMurtrey Sinclair resigned in the fall to take a position
with Lincoln College, so the bureau is back to a part-time temporary director as
they prepare to search for a new person.
Talking about the director position, Jeff Hoinacki noted that there had been a
regular turnover of tourism directors over the last three to four years. He
wondered, if, for that reason the city should get involved more fully, so that a
better employment package could be offered to a director, with the hopes of
While Welch didn’t disagree with the thought, he said that he believed one of
the biggest issues for any director is the instability of the future of the
bureau. He suggested that the city stop the six-month temporary renewals, and
move to a full year agreement for 2017. He added that he would support making
the agreement an automatic annual renewal with a provision added that would
allow for a review if warranted necessary.
The discussion also moved to the current website issues, and David Doolin was
mentioned as someone who could be helpful in fixing the issues. Parrott said
that Doolin has already spent time with the Tourism Board, and is looking at how
to make the website more user-friendly and with better content.
Parrott went on to say that as a sitting member of the board, he felt that the
people who are now serving are genuinely dedicated to tourism, and are prepared
to work toward making the bureau better.
Michelle Bauer noted that she was in favor of the county being involved in the
Tourism Bureau, but she thought there needed to be an additional conversation
about the county’s financial involvement. She said maybe that was a conversation
for another time, and Johnson said he thought perhaps it was, as the current
conversation was about the contract between the city and tourism.
As the discussion began to wind down, Johnson said he felt the council might not
be ready to put anything up for a vote. He suggested that the working group be
permitted time to review the requests of the council and incorporate those into
the contract between the city and tourism. Once that is done, the aldermen will
have the opportunity to review the revised document before it is put to the
The council agreed that would be the best plan.
The current funding agreement is set to expire the end of the year. It is
expected that a new contract will be up for approval before the old one expires.