Mayor Steve Bach wants to spend $200,000 on a public relations campaign for the proposed City for Champions project.
The money would come from the Lodgers Automotive Rental Tax $4 million fund and it’s in his proposed 2014 annual budget. But the LART fund is one of the few over which City Council has direct control and the council has not endorsed the proposed City for Champions project, which includes four major tourism projects.
Council member Joel Miller said the city shouldn’t spend money on a public relations campaign for projects that have not yet recieved state approval. In July, the city applied to the Regional Tourism Act program, which allows cities to collect rebates on state sales tax to help fund tourism projects. The city’s application and forecasted economic numbers are under review now. State officials are expected to make a final decision in December.
Is the public relations campaign trying to get tourists to visit the not-yet approved projects, Miller asked.
“To me, it’s trying to convince people to support the initiative,” he said.
Aimee Cox, the city’s senior economic vitality specialist, said that if the city does not win state approval for the four projects, the $200,000 can be directed to other projects.
But council member Jan Martin, chair woman of the LART committee, said the mayor is trying to contol how LART money is spent without the consent of the LART committee, which reviewed every application before making a recommendation to council.
Under the mayor’s proposal, the $200,000 would come from the $2.6 million set aside for the Convention and Visitors Bureau, which has been intricately involved in the City for Champions proposal — a proposed U.S. Olympic museum, a U.S. Air Force Academy visitors’ center, a University of Colorado at Colorado Springs sports medicine center and a downtown baseball stadium.
In addition to changing how CVB money is spent, the mayor’s budget would spend $150,000 on public safety patrol at Garden of the Gods Park and Helen Hunt Falls. That eats into the $300,000 reserve money the council wanted to keep in the LART fund for its own economic development projects.
“There is a plan for that $300,000 and this (mayor’s) plan discredits the plan,” Martin said.