Hello, There has been widespread concern about the resignation of Jen Luria as Visitor Center Supervisor. I've included a long and somewhat disjointed commentary that hopefully will shed some historical light on why the unease about the vacancy and suggest moving quickly on a replacement as well as a plea to come to the council meeting. Oh yeah...and a rant. about tourism economic illiteracy.
The first full meeting for new council people will be Tuesday. The background is interesting in that it is a full explication of the how/why/what testing of the Wastewater Treatment Plant and the ADEQ consent order.Also included is a short synopsis of new council member Leslie John's activities the past couple of weeks. I hope to continue these in the future. And a note on KBRP activities. fred @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@
THE PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE OF BISBEE TOURISM Ms. Jen Luria, Visitor Center Supervisor, has resigned from her City job. Her official title does not do justice to the key role she has played in the resurgence of tourism in Bisbee. She is literally responsible for hundreds of thousands of dollars spent in our community over the past 3+ years. The accolades Bisbee has received from Frommers 10 best places to visit; Sunset's magazine Best Small Town to Live; USA Today; Architectural Digest, as well as scores of magazine articles extolling the charms/restaurants/scenery/history/architecture/art; all are a direct result of her work.
She has been a key participant, along with iBisbee committee, in changing the focus from Bisbee as a history/old west town, to a place where visitors have a diversity of experiences offered. The profile of who visits Bisbee has changed as a result of this. She opened a Visitor Information Office in the museum, pieced together a support staff and volunteers, and has escorted scores of travel writers around town guiding them to many interesting sites and people. Bisbee's social media presence, which continues to grow, is directly attributable to her consistent postings as is a new and improved website that is Bisbee's portal to the world. Statistics have also improved, tracking visitors to the website, social media sites, and the two information sites. She has parlayed the small ad budget into thousands of dollars of free space. She has been in office during three City Managers (no small task that!), two councils and two mayors and worked well with all. She ain't Wonder Woman, but she a woman who has done wonders for our town. Rachal Hudson, her able and personable assistant for the past year and a half is also changing her focus. She will continue in Bisbee as Local First organizer, but will no longer be working at the visitor center for the city (she was paid by a grant). She will also be working with the RAIN group. As you can see from the brief history below, businesses fought for and won an increase in marketing/ad dollars and an an increase in the tourism budget after some poor City Manager decisions. Business owners that I have talked with will likely strenuously resist any tinkering with the Visitor Center budget or not filling the VC supervisor position. We have seen a surge in visitors in the past four years with a concomitant increase in tax revenue to the city and none of us want to lose that momentum. As of this writing, regrettably, the City has not posted the position to be filled. Hopefully that will be done soon. And I suggest that there be an small ad hoc advisory committee formed to assist the City in evaluating prospects for the position.
At Tuesday's council meeting, I urge business owners use call to the public to let the Council and administrators know the benefits she has brought to their business and our town. And to fill the position as soon as possible to ensure continuity. SOME HISTORY As you can see below, ad spending didn't increase until about 4 years ago. In prior years, Steve Pauken, City Manager and the mayor/council that went along with him, had cut the ad budget to $25,000, unilaterally moved the visitor center from the convention center to an out of the way location at the Mine Tour (without any business input), and downgraded tourism efforts. You can see from the chart below the huge revenue (bed tax) drop as a direct result of those actions. It is only in the past four years that bed tax revenue has increased coming out of the recession. And that was a direct result of a loose business organization called A Better Bisbee lobbying for a big increase in marketing and cutting some admin positions. And later the iBisbee committee pushing for a 1% overnight bed tax in addition to the 2.5%, as well as a reworking of tourism messaging. (That overnight bed tax will expire in March reducing revenue by anywhere from $20k to $40k. This was an administration/council error in missing the deadline to put an extension on the ballot in November. )
(*budget formulation for grants changed in FY 2014 and budget format changed in FY 2018-2019 making comparisons with previous years more difficult. Also actual spending is not completed for this fiscal year.)
The Rant....There are a small number of vocal residents that despise tourism and efforts to bring visitors to town. There is, as well, a yearning from some long time residents, for the Bisbee of the past where they grew up. And over the years, occasionally these opinions or variations thereof are heard from some members of the council. Among other things these sentiments include advocating returning to the company town that Bisbee used to be (as if!), or keeping Bisbee Bisbee (whatever that means!), of complaining about too many people in town (they may have to walk to a parking spot!), or not liking to share our wonderful city with anyone (ostrich syndrome!).
The unifying factor among these people is economic illiteracy. Although tourism is roundly criticized, no realistic solutions are offered about how Bisbee can continue to pay for basic services such as garbage pick up, treatment of waste, upkeep of parks, police protection, fire vigilance, ambulance services and other functions of City government.
Bisbee's budget of about $7 million is about 53%-60% tourism dependent. That includes direct spending; accommodations, dining, drinking, shopping, etc. and indirect spending; owners and workers who then spend on food, drinking, building, rent, mortgage, and the myriad other services availed of by working people. (The percentage is a best guess. Dr. Carreira and I over past years have come up with this approximate figure based on some of his analysis.)I've been on the iBisbee committee for four+ years and Economic Development has been very difficult with the only successes coming from Tourism efforts. We have had hotel builders, assisted living builders, home builders, industry builders, and more and all have passed on Bisbee; mostly citing location, infrastructure inadequacy, and market deficiencies. We have had respected experts on econ dev come in and tell us that tourism is what we should concentrate on and do it by broadening and encouraging tourism based activities and selective marketing.
The choice then is not to screw around with what has been working but to ensure continuity as well as augment, build on, and promote the kind of tourism that is beneficial to the entire community.
............................ COUNCIL AGENDA
Tuesday December 18, 7:00 1415 Melody Lane Background here:
Of interest: There is a letter from Public Works interim director, Dwayne Wallace outlining the problems with the WWTP and the difficulty of finding local certified workers.
There is also an instructive background document for the consent order from ADEQ regarding the Wastewater Treatment Plant. The complicated task of treating effluent is outlined with the kind of testing mandated to insure proper procedures are followed. There were significant problems this year, including failure of algae tests (this involves taking water samples putting a fish in the sample to see if it dies. Takes place in a lab) which led to the State's consent order. Compliance with the consent order gives the City time to comply but on a specific schedule. It is one of the reasons that Jacobs was selected to run the WW plant.
There is a discussion only item on the preservation of the Warren fire station that has no supporting documents.
INVOCATION: A Moment of Silence
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
MAYOR’S PROCLAMATIONS AND ANNOUNCEMENTS:
· Proclamation for Wreaths Across America
CALL TO THE PUBLIC
THE FOLLOWING ITEMS WILL BE DISCUSSED, CONSIDERED AND/OR DECIDED UPON AT THIS MEETING:
1. ACCOUNTS PAYABLE: Subject to availability of funds
2. Approval of the Consent Agenda
A. Approval of the Minutes of the Regular Session of Mayor and Council held on December 4, 2018 at 7:00PM.
B. Approval of the Minutes of the Regular Session of Mayor and Council held on November 20, 2018 at 7:00PM.
C. Approval of the Minutes of the Special Session of Mayor and Council held on November 20, 2018 at 5:30PM.
D. Approval of the Resignation of Cathy Murphy from the Bisbee Arts Commission.
E. Approval of the Appointment of Douglas Dunn to the Planning and Zoning Commission.
3. Discussion and Possible Approval of Ordinance O-18-14 to Conditionally Rezone APN 103-61-348, owned by Dennis and Donna Gatten, from R-1 to CM-1.
Paul Esparza, Planning Manager
4. Discussion and Possible Approval of an IGA for Legal Services with Cochise County Attorney’s Office.
Britt Hanson, City Attorney
5. Discussion and Possible Approval of the Execution of the ADEQ Consent Order for the Wastewater Treatment Plant.
Robert E. Smith, City Manager
6. Discussion and Possible Approval of the Agreement for the Appointment of the City Magistrate for Magistrate Court of the City of Bisbee.
David M. Smith, Mayor
7. Discussion on the Preservation of the Warren Fire Station on Bisbee Road.
Joni Giacomino, Councilmember Ward II
8. Discussion and Possible Approval of an updated Public Works Director/City Engineer job classification.
Daniel Duchon, Personnel Director
9. City Manager's Report:
KBRP Saturday, December 22 is the Annual KBRP Members’ Meeting and Potluck at the Bisbee Royale Doors open at 6:00 PM for KBRP members. 7:00 for to the general public for their year end party. On NYE there is a dynamite music lineup. KBRPradio.com for more details and to sign up or renew your membership. @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@ Leslie Johns, Ward 1 Councilperson Ms. Johns sent this to me for inclusion in the Wire. I hope we can continue this kind of communication. It will give you a better idea of just what a councilperson does. So far, I've attended new council training through the League of Cities and Towns in Mesa on December 6 and 7, and because of that was unable to make it to the Design Review Board or Airport Advisory meetings that happened the first week of December. I did meet with the city manager for over two hours on December 13 to discuss things happening with the committees I am liaison to, and the city in general. I've heard from several residents recently, mostly about: the appeal on the Jacobs contract protest, renewing the IGA with the county attorney's office, sewer bills, and the upcoming city manager performance evaluation. I will do my best to represent everyone's concerns at the meeting on Tuesday. If you want to get in touch about these or any other city issues, my city email, email@example.com, is active. @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@FM@@@@@@@@@@@@