The Manteca Convention & Visitors Bureau is probably going to close its doors.
“We’ll pack our bags and we’ll close,” CVB Chief Executive Officer Virginia Camacho told the Manteca City Council Thursday after elected leaders indicated they weren’t supportive of the non-profit’s proposal to secure either $120,000 or $160,000 in city funding to operate for the fiscal year starting July 1.
Camacho — upon learning she had one last chance to change the council’s mind on June 21 when the budget is up for final adoption — then pitched a plan for the city to give the CVB $460,000 for the nest fiscal year.
That plan, among other things, would require the CVB, according to Camacho to:
ucoordinate an effort between the Manteca Mural Society, Manteca Historical Society, the downtown business association and the Manteca Chamber of Commerce along with the CVB to tackle community homeless issues and work to revitalize downtown.
uwork with Caltrans to direct travelers heading to Yosemite National Park to get off the 120 Bypass — built in the 1970s to eliminate five-mile weekend traffic jams on Yosemite Avenue created by Bay Area to Sierra travel — back to Yosemite Avenue as the historic Yosemite route so they could patronize restaurants and business in downtown.
The CVB — which received $135,630 for the current year that represented 20 percent of the motel room taxes collected in the previous year in Manteca — exists to promote tourism, gatherings, and visits to Manteca to fill motel rooms as well as generate additional business for restaurants and stores. Most of the rooms in Manteca — as well as many in nearby communities such as Lathrop — are booked by teams that Big League Dreams has been drawing to weekend tournaments for nearly 10 consecutive years.
A number of years back the CVB staged numerous events designed to bring visitors into Manteca. They also worked to book small conferences, encourage family reunions and even secured regional gatherings such as the Northern California Senior Games. The CVB, which split from the Manteca Chamber of Commerce roughly 15 years ago, still conducts the street fair.
Even with the $135,630 from the city and street fair receipts that when Mayor Steve DeBrum served as president of the organization more than a decade ago would generate between $20,000 and $40,000 a year in revenue, the CVB was forced to move from its offices at Orchard Valley that’s anchored by Bass Pro Shops.
They have relocated to space near the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory at Yosemite and Lincoln avenues in downtown. The three member staff has been pared back to just Camacho while office hours were slashed back to just three days a week.
DeBrum and City Manager Karen McLaughlin met with Camacho in March informing her of the city’s intention to eliminate motel tax as a source of automatic funding for the CVB. At the time they involved the CVB to apply for a set aside economic development fund unwritten by $750,000 a year in pass thru receipts as the city’s share of the annual assessment levied by the now-defunct redevelopment agency.
DeBrum said it was made clear at the time that any request for funding required a specific outline of what the money would be used for and how it would benefit the community within the scope of the CVB’s mission of filling motel rooms and generating visitor traffic and spending.
DeBrum — as well as other council members — made it clear Thursday that the proposal the CVB submitted for funding failed to accomplish that goal.
The amount the CVB asked for — $120,000 and $160,000 — was essentially 15 percent and 20 percent of the motel room tax they were receiving every year. The CVB also suggested the city increase the 9 percent room tax. Such a move would require approval from city voters.
Those motel room taxes are expected to hit $999,000 next year, up from $908,265 this year and $794,100 last year.
Councilwoman Debby Moorhead said she was skeptical not only of the cost/benefit analysis the CVB provided for the money they were receiving from the city but was also concerned about the exceptionally high turnover the CVB board was experiencing.
“I do not support any funding for the CVB,” she said.
She added that she prefers the street fair to go back to the chamber where it belongs.
City staff said they were told if the CVB ceased operations that the Manteca Community Foundation was posed to take over the Crossroads Street Fair.
Moorhead pointed out the CVB has received $1.1 million from the city since July of 2003.
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