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“Council unhappy with CVB transition plans” by: Jessica Shepard

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Sentinel photo/Jessica Shepard
Robert Lister, Bay City Chamber of Commerce chairman, and Heidi Martinez, CVB director, listen to city council discussion last Thursday about moving CVB from the chamber’s management to a new City Hall department.

City Council members heatedly discussed the reorganization and appointment of Heidi Martinez as Matagorda County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau (CVB) director as the city’s new Tourism Director for more than 30 minutes during their regular meeting Thursday, Dec. 21.
   Concerns were raised about the overall employment procedure/appointment and how the transition will affect the Bay City Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture as operational support for the CVB.
   “The $48,000 in operational support will basically be used to offset the current position,” said Mayor Mark Bricker.
   “The only came up is that at the request of the Chamber that 90 days, they’ll basically be given $12,000.”
   Council members were provided a copy of the original 1997 contract signed by former mayor Charlie Martinez and then Bay City Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture director Richard Knapik that detailed the agreement between the city and the Chamber.
   “My real big concern with this is, I got an email on Dec. 10 and it was a tight-lipped thing,” said councilman Jason Childers.
   “You know, ‘let’s not really discuss this’ sort of thing and I wake up this morning and I got most of my information from the local newspaper. Which really, really bothers me.
   “My concerns are, of course, the transition date. We’ve got 13 working days from what it looks like. Do we give them 90 days or three months basically before we transition Heidi over here?”
   “That’s what the request is,” clarified Bricker.
   “We’d like to move Heidi over starting in January, but continue to pay the Chamber for 90 days through March, I believe,” said Chamber Board Chairman Robert Lister.
   “I also want to make the comment that they’re losing a position but the CVB position was not entirely CVB-oriented. I mean, she also assisted doing Chamber events and other things. So they’re losing that position and are going to have to hire additional staff to assist Mitch and Irene in doing things, you know, chambers are responsible for. That’s my only concern – where those funds are going to come from. I know that I briefly talked to the mayor about increasing the funding that we pay for the Chamber to run the Civic Center at $48,000. It’s been that way for about six or seven years roughly.”
   “My other concern is that we offered a position to a director. Doesn’t that come to us first?” asked Childers.
   “Don’t we approve a new position? Or did I miss that discussion while I was out due to the baby?”
   “This is the first we’ve talked about it,” said Councilwoman Becca Sitz.
   “I’m not saying I’m not opposed to this, most cities you know with this much HOT money coming in do house their CVB,” added Childers.

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