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Council proposal would remove Chamber influence over Visit Mason City


This news story was published on January 28, 2011.
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A proposal is being brought forward by four Mason City Council members that would terminate a 28E agreement between the City of Mason City and the Chamber of Commerce. The proposal will be on the next City Council meeting agenda, which will be held Feb. 1.|A proposal is being brought forward by four Mason City Council members that would terminate a 28E agreement between the City of Mason City and the Chamber of Commerce.

A 28E agreement allows for any governmental agency to undertake any activity jointly with any other agency. Currently, a 28E agreement is in place between the City of Mason City, the Visit Mason City agency, and the Mason City Chamber of Commerce. In this case, hotel/motel taxes are collected and then some of that revenue is used by Visit Mason City to promote Mason City.

Council members Don Nelson, Jeff Marsters, Max Weaver, and Travis Hickey want to amend this 28E agreement, and work solely with the Visit Mason City agency. This would take the Visit Mason City agency out from under the control of the Mason City Chamber of Commerce and make them a stand alone agency. The proposal will be on the next City Council meeting agenda, which will be held Feb. 1.

According to Councilman Travis Hickey, a current member of the Visit Mason City Board, which oversees the Visit Mason City agency, “Right now, if the Chamber doesn’t like the direction of Visit Mason City, they can step over the Visit Mason City Board. This move would make Visit Mason City it’s own entity, removing any influence over it from the Chamber of Commerce.” Visit Mason City has two employees at this time.

Two years ago, Councilman Jeff Marsters was on the Convention & Vistiors Bureau (CVB) Board, which has since become the Visit Mason City Board. Marsters resigned from the board, citing pressure put on resigning board chairman Blair Brody from the Chamber of Commerce. NorthIowaToday.com obtained a copy of Marsters’ resignation and it stated “I have since confirmed that his resignation was due to undue influence from Executive Board members of the Mason City Chamber of Commerce meeting with him and pressuring his resignation due to his lack of support to the Vision Iowa proposal.”

In a 2008 Globe Gazette story, Chamber of Commerce director Robin Anderson “denied the accusations.” The Globe Gazette apparently allowed Anderson to ask herself a series of questions and then answer them. According to the Globe story, Anderson said: “Did Blair have a conflict of interest between his personal opinion on Vision Iowa and in his volunteer leadership role with the CVB? Yes. Was resigning the appropriate thing to do? Probably. Is he entitled to his opinion? Yes. Was he asked to resign? No.”

Asked how altering the 28E agreement would benefit Mason City, Max Weaver said “I believe once the big thumb is off the VMC group, we will experience a Renaissance of an old program. As a Council member, I’m excited for the new partnership and very happy For VMC, it’s employees and Board of directors. It will be a breath of fresh air, believe me.”

NorthIowaToday.com will continue to cover this developing story.

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