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CVB budget not known yet

Brian Cuaron

By Brian Cuaron
July 5, 2011 at 2:05 a.m.

The city of Victoria doesn't know how much money is left in the Convention and Visitors Bureau's budget.

The city gave the bureau $437,500 from the Motel Tax Fund as of June 21, according to a city document. The bureau is currently under the Victoria Chamber of Commerce, but was scheduled to become a city department on Oct. 1.

However, with the bureau's former executive director, Bridgette Bise, now gone, the city in an ordinance on Tuesday planned to put the bureau under its control on Aug. 1.

The ordinance also created a Convention and Visitor's Bureau division for the city. And, it transferred $313,000 from the Hotel Occupancy Tax fund to provide funding for the new division.

City Manager Charmelle Garrett said she would meet with the Victoria Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday. She said the city doesn't know what money from the bureau's budget has been committed.

Garrett said that the city received quarterly reports from the bureau.

O.C. Garza, communications director for the city, said the city doesn't know how much funds are left in the bureau's budget.

Garza said he will be over the bureau once it becomes a city department, and he will lead a search for a new executive director.

Garza said any funds left in the bureau's budget would come over to the city after the bureau becomes a city department.

Gilbert Reyna Jr., city finance director, said the staff is in the process of accounting for all the money left in the bureau's account. He added that staff is working with outside auditors.

The city council also passed the redistricting criteria put forth by the law firm it hired for redistricting.

The law firm, Allison, Bass & Associates, had included in its recommended criteria item No. 8, which would ensure incumbents won't be redistricted out of their district.

However, Councilman Gabriel Soliz fought against that, putting forward a motion to strike it out of the criteria adopted by council.

The motion failed 1 to 6. Councilman Tom Halepaska was absent from the meeting.

Councilman Paul Polasek repeatedly challenged Soliz on the issue. He said that the courts have recognized that experienced incumbents are important.

Polasek also said a proposed map put forward by Soliz's nominee on the citizens redistricting committee would put him out of his district.

"I'm suspicious as to why you want to have it removed," said Polasek, regarding item No. 8.

Yet Soliz said that looking out for incumbents forces attorneys to draw lines around them.

"I was under the impression that gerrymandering is when you create a district to keep the incumbent," Soliz said after the meeting.

"But that's what we're doing if we keep item No. 8."

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