November 12, 2013 9:48:44 AM
Today marks six months since the Columbus Convention and Visitors Bureau board of directors was reduced to a membership of eight.
It's unlikely a ninth member will be named anytime soon. Lowndes County board of supervisors president Harry Sanders and Columbus Mayor Robert Smith have been able to reach a consensus on the joint appointment. Both have told The Dispatch they are still in discussions on the matter.
The city council and board of supervisors each have four appointees to the tourism board. Smith and Sanders removed Harvey Myrick in June after finding he still was closely involved with Grilling on the River, a festival he founded in 2006 and rescinded official control over after being named to the CVB board in 2011. The event had received CVB grant funding.
Board minutes from meetings that have taken place since Myrick's removal state directors have been deadlocked with 4-4 votes on two occasions during the board's July retreat. One of the votes was to keep local grant funding for the 2013-14 fiscal year at $130,000 instead of lowering it to $95,000. The other was to allow Myrick to speak to the board after it voted to deny funding Grilling on the River the second half of an $8,000 grant. The board does not have a procedure to break a tie, so a 4-4 vote on a motion fails for lack of a majority.
Sanders said in a previous Dispatch article that he'd pushed for Charles Miller, a current member of the Lowndes County Port Authority board. In a recent interview, Smith did not mention names but said he and Sanders had traded suggestions and had not come to an agreement.
"We're still in the discussion stages as far as trying to come together on an individual we can live with," Smith said. "He said one or two names. I shared a couple of names. He's not comfortable with the ones I've shared with him and I'm not comfortable (with his suggestions)."
Sanders said Smith has not discussed potential candidates with him.
"I've given a couple of names and he said he'd think about it," Sanders said. "He hasn't responded. I don't know what we're going to do. (The CVB's list of bylaws) doesn't say we have to have nine as long as we have a quorum. They can function just the way they are."
The CVB has a 2013-2014 budget of approximately $1.6 million and is funded by a two percent restaurant tax.
The CVB board's next meeting will be held at 4 p.m. Nov. 18.
Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.
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