The Jefferson Parish Council on Wednesday turned down a proposal to have hotel tax revenue for the Jefferson Parish Convention and Visitors Bureau go directly to that entity without passing through the parish’s coffers first.
The effort, which would have needed state legislation to make it happen, was requested by the bureau last month but drew questions from Councilman Chris Roberts and Inspector General David McClintock about whether it would weaken the parish’s oversight of the agency.
Councilwoman Jennifer Van Vrancken, who had sponsored a resolution supporting the legislation proposed by state Sen. Danny Martiny, R-Kenner, said the concerns raised by the inspector general were enough to make her drop the matter.
Martiny had filed a bill in the Legislature to make the funding change but said he wouldn’t advance it unless the council unanimously supported it.
Having already once deferred the resolution that would have declared that support, the council amended it Wednesday at Van Vrancken’s request to remove all references to the Senate bill and say only that the council supports the Visitors Bureau’s efforts “in promoting tourism and cultural activities in the parish.”
It then passed unanimously, effectively killing the effort, which the bureau had said would bring it in line with how other parishes handle funding for their tourism agencies and would have prevented it from losing funding if council members ever became hostile toward it.
Nevertheless, bureau President Violet Peters said the agency appreciates language inserted into the resolution that the parish “commits to endeavor a long-term relationship” with it, though she echoed Van Vrancken in saying it’s too early to tell what that might entail.
“Clearly, we are happy that the council supports tourism and the Convention and Visitors Bureau and will work to strengthen our (relationship),” she said.
Van Vrancken said discussions — to include the Parish Attorney’s Office and the Inspector General’s Office — will determine what steps might be taken to address any concerns that led to the proposal to change the funding process.
The bureau got more than $1.2 million in hotel-motel occupancy tax revenue last year to market the parish to potential visitors. It operates under a five-year cooperative endeavor agreement, which most recently was approved in June. Under the agreement, the tax money goes first to the Parish Council, which then forwards it to the bureau.
Follow Chad Calder on Twitter, @Chad_Calder.