Marketing plan gets $750,000 in funding

Nov. 3, 2009 at 5:03 a.m.

A plan to spend $750,000 to aggressively market Victoria was approved Tuesday on a split vote of the city council after a show of support from the business community.

The 4-3 vote followed a lengthy council discussion and several motions on what the level of funding should be.

"Trust your instincts," said Mark Cooke, board chairman for the Victoria Chamber of Commerce. "Mine tell me we're on the verge of something very great."

Voting for the proposal were Mayor Will Armstrong and council members Denise Rangel, Paul Polasek and Tom Halepaska. Against were Gabriel Soliz, David Hagan and Joe Truman.

A revamped Convention and Visitors Bureau was asking $750,000 in hotel-motel tax to let people know about Victoria and to draw tourists to the city. The request included $423,900 for general advertising alone.

The tax generates about $1 million a year for Victoria, with about $332,000 used to help operate the community center. Funding the bureau and community center at those levels means tapping a $400,000 fund balance, because that's more than the tax produces.

The council discussed funding the request at lesser amounts to leave more money to operate the community center and for funding the arts in Victoria.

"I do not feel Victoria is ready for a media blitz," Council Member Joe Truman said. Victoria has several major infrastructure projects that need to be finished first, he said.

Council Member David Hagan said he has confidence in the bureau and the chamber, but would like to move cautiously in funding the marketing plan.

"I would like to see the proof in the pudding," he said. "As they succeed, we can reward that success with more money."

Bridgette Bise, executive director of the bureau, said her plan is not a media blitz.

"It builds awareness of Victoria," she said. "We have none."

Cutting the budget proposal would leave holes in the plan and force her to adjust the strategy, she said.

Armstrong said he'd be disappointed if the council funded the request for less than $700,000. He said the council shouldn't try to micromanage the bureau and then expect it to produce results.

"What the hell," he said. "Let's give it all away."



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