State lawmakers have stripped language from a bill that would have given a newly created Gainesville Convention and Visitors Bureau Authority power to issue bonds, purchase property and hire personnel without oversight from the City Council.
When Gainesville officials approved a resolution last month asking the Georgia General Assembly to pass the proposed bill, they called it nothing more than a name change to the current tourism bureau.
A Feb. 24 story in The Times noted a possible expansion of powers under the bill. While city officials said use of the expanded powers was unlikely, the possibility was enough to lead Rep. Carl Rogers, R-Gainesville, to make changes in the bill.
Rogers said allowing the CVB to exercise such powers would effectively create a city within the city.
“I’ve never really liked creating authorities,” he added.
Rogers led the charge to reel in these proposed powers, which included the ability to acquire loans and borrow money, as well as acquire and construct a new convention facility.
“We talked about it, and we don’t have a problem with that,” said City Manager Kip Padgett. “The main thing (Rogers) left in about promoting convention and tourism, and being able to contract for convention bureau services ... was the thing that was most important to us.”
The move to create a new CVB follows the closing of the Georgia Mountains Center last year, which hosted conventions and trade shows. The shuttering of the facility freed more hotel/motel tax revenue, which city officials said would primarily fund the new CVB.
The City Council will appoint members to the seven-person board of directors governing the CVB — made up of the city manager, parks and recreation director, and representatives from the local restaurant, hotel and attractions industries.
Lawmakers have until March 20 to pass the bill.