Destination Osoyoos will provide economic development services to town for five years

By on February 19, 2014

Town of Osoyoos council has approved administration signing a new five-year contract with Destination Osoyoos (DO) to deliver economic development services to the town.

Council has also approved a deal that will allow Destination Osoyoos to continue collecting the two per cent Hotel Room Tax on behalf of local hotel and motel owners and be responsible for developing and delivering a destination marketing program that utilizes the Municipal and Rural District Tax (MRDT) that amounts to approximately $285,000 annually.

Destination Osoyoos is currently in the process of hiring a new executive manager. That search has been ongoing for the past few months.

Brianne Hearle has been the only full-time employee with Destination Osoyoos since former executive director Jo Knight left her position last spring.

The town formed its own volunteer economic development committee more than a year ago, but that organization was never turned into an official entity throughout its existence.

The agreement approved by the DO board and town council includes a five-year agreement with termination clauses included in the contract.

DO will be responsible for targeted service areas including economic development, resort municipality promotion, community development and visitor/community information.

A new board of directors will include three economic development representatives appointed by the town and the maximum amount of annual funding has been identified at $88,000 with an annual Consumer Price Index clause.

The maximum amounts identified include salary, administration, travel, conference attendance and program development.

Reporting responsibilities by the new executive manager include the development of a council-approved strategic plan and three-year business plan.

“This agreement was based on an annual budget and commitment to providing funds to assist with an executive search using an executive search company,” said chief administrative officer Barry Romanko. “DO is currently in the midst of an executive search (without a search company) with the potential of this position not being filled until the end of April or later.

“Administration is of the opinion that delays in finding an appropriate executive will impact delivery of the program, therefore, funding for DO for the services needs to be suitably adjusted. In the event that council approves this agreement, administration recommends … no funds under this agreement be provided to Destination Osoyoos until the executive manager is in place and the amount of 2014 funding provided under this contract decrease based on a prorated weekly basis until the starting date of the executive manager.”

A letter of understanding clarifying the payment fees still has to be signed between the town’s senior administration and the DO board, said Romanko.

The Destination Osoyoos board will also include three members of the accommodation industry, three members of the community elected at large, one member appointed by the Osoyoos Indian Band and one member appointed by the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen.

Under provincial legislation, the town is authorized to identify a destination marketing organization to carry out the hotel room tax program, said Romanko.

The funds are collected by local accommodators and provided to the province.

The province then forwards funds to the town for program implementation.

The first five years of the program were guided by DO and administered by a Destination Marketing Agreement that wrapped up in 2012.

Several months ago, a majority of hotel and motel owners in town agreed to continue with the two per cent hotel tax program and the program was rebranded to the MRDT.

Council voted Monday to formally extend the agreement with DO as the town’s official Destination Marketing Organization and accept all responsibilities to develop and deliver a destination marketing program that utilizes the $285,000 in annual MRDT funds.

Coun. Michael Ryan said he’s glad to see DO will have a clearly defined mission to work as the town’s official economic development arm.

“This has been a long time coming, but it’s an excellent contract,” he said.

Mayor Stu Wells said he wanted to clarify that DO will be responsible for destination marketing initiatives, but that it’s Osoyoos hotel and motel owners who collect the tax and determine exactly how they believe the money would be best spent in marketing this community across B.C. and across the country.

“The hotel operators vote on it, they collect it and they get to determine where it’s used,” he said.

DO simply runs the program on behalf of the hotel and motel owners, he said.

KEITH LACEY

Osoyoos Times

 

 

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