Mayor Prussing’s veto of funding to Convention and Visitors Bureau still stands

The Urbana City Council voted 4-3 not to override the mayoral veto of funding to the Champaign County Convention and Visitors Bureau, or CVB. There is hope for CVB funding, however, as many council members said they supported a budget amendment to provide some funding for the bureau, though less than the approximately $72,000 that was previously allocated.

The council will discuss funding options for the bureau at its next meeting Monday.

Charlie Smyth, Ward 1, who voted not to override the veto, suggested using $20,000 as a base from which to build funding.

Paul Debevek, University professor, said at the meeting that the mayor’s veto did not take into account Champaign county, the city of Champaign, Savoy or the University, all of which partly fund the bureau.

“This is Urbana unilateralism at its very worst,” he said.

Smyth said the council should work with other agencies in the county, as well as the hotels and motels themselves, when discussing what future bureau funding will look like.

Mayor Laurel Prussing said she wants to hold the CVB more accountable. She has in the past criticized the bureau for claiming it was responsible for work done by other agencies.

“We need a mechanism for giving credit where credit is due,” she said.

Prussing also suggested alternative funding methods for the bureau be sought out. She said hotels and motels that think the bureau helps their business could give some of their revenue back to the bureau.

She also said, in the original ordinance authorizing funding to the bureau, a special tourism fund would have been set up, funded by money from conventions that booked 20 rooms or more. Prussing said she thought that fund was never set up because the city was never given reports of such conventions.

Heather Stevenson, Ward 6, who voted to override the veto, said the CVB is an important service to many people, especially those who do not use the Internet when planning trips.

“I think they’re (the bureau) something we can’t just brush under the rug and say they don’t do anything for the city of Urbana,” she said. “The CVB reaches people.”

The city council also voted 6-1 to pass a 1 percent liquor tax, which will go into effect in October.