|Written by Mark Lineberger|
|Friday, 01 July 2011 00:00|
There has been talk over the past few years about what to do with the Camp Verde Visitor Center on Main Street, also home to the offices of the Camp Verde Chamber of Commerce.
The Town of Camp Verde owns the building and as the town has looked into providing more modern and updated office space for its employees, the visitor center has at times seemed like an attractive possibility to many members of various town councils.
The chamber and visitor center is staying put for now, however, after a unanimous vote last week at the June 22 Town Council meeting.
The council approved a yearlong lease agreement for the upcoming fiscal year, Friday, July 1, through June 30, 2012, after some final changes were made by Town Attorney Bill Sims.
In exchange for paying the town a nominal lease payment of $1, the chamber will receive $55,000 in funding from the town to operate the center’s physical Main Street location, along with an additional $25,000 for the sole use of marketing the town and promoting tourism.
That brings the total cost to the town to $80,000 for the upcoming budget year.
In the lease proposal given to the council, Town Manager Russ Martin determined using the chamber and visitor center as a contractor is the town’s current best alternative when it comes to attracting tourists, a major source of revenue for the town’s sales-tax-reliant budget.
Martin pointed out the town could provide some of the same services “in-house,” but without the chamber, the town would not be able to keep the visitor center operating at current levels.
“They provide the services … seven days a week,” Martin said. “They also keep the lights on and pay for those types of things as well.”
Councilwoman Robin Whatley said she thought the organization had been doing an excellent job of promoting the town; The group advertises the community far and wide to attract potential tourists to see what Camp Verde has to offer.
Many marketing efforts have promoted Camp Verde as an excellent “home base” for people who want to explore the surrounding Verde Valley and beyond.
Whatley also pointed to visitor records kept at the center.
Numbers show that just over 8,300 people came to the visitor center in 2010, an increase of nearly 1,000 over 2009.
“It makes me happy that even in these economic times we had more visitors in 2010 than in 2009,” Whatley said.
The agreement also calls for the chamber to provide quarterly reports to the Town Council on activities and updates throughout the year, along with a copy of the chamber’s annual financial audit.
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