Hearing planned on outsourcing hotel tax

Faced with opposition to hiring an out-of-town firm to handle promotions formerly administered by the Chamber of Commerce, the city council Tuesday evening decided to schedule a future town hall type public hearing with one of the firms who recently made a presentation.

Meeting in special session at City Hall, the council decided to hold a meeting with Orasi Development.

In the wake of last November’s decision by the Chamber executive board not to continue to administer the city’s hotel-motel tax, the council has been mulling proposals from Orasi and two other firms—Miller Ad Agency and Aria Agency—to take its place and promote tourism and lodging using those funds.

Mayor Larry Jones, responding to comments opposing outsourcing the task to a non-Rockdale entity, outlined the history of the situation.

“I was very happy with what the Chamber had been doing all these years,” Jones said. “Unfortunately, some members of the council felt they didn’t have the trust in the Chamber they felt they needed to have.”

“Finally, the Chamber said ‘fine, you’re not happy, you got it; here’s your money back’,” Jones said. “We don’t see anybody else in town who is interested in stepping up at this point and enduring some of the comments and criticism the Chamber got tired of putting up with.”

Af ter the Nov. 6 meet ing in which the Chamber board relinquished the hotel-motel tax, chairperson Debra Jackson referenced some of the recent tension between the city and the organization.

She said the situation came to a head after an Oct 23 workshop with the council over administering hotel-motel tax funds.

“I thought we had everything worked out,” Jackson told The Reporter in November. “But by the next day I was hearing there were still some issues, that there was an alternate plan somewhere.”

“I felt like a dead horse that kept getting beaten up,” she said.

The Chamber, which had to apply to the city for funds it used to administrate, no longer has a full-time president but continues to have a secretary and maintains its rock house headquarters.

Events such as next week’s Tejas Festival continue to be funded on an interim basis by individuals and groups applying to the city for hotel-motel tax money.

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