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Kenai council to hear more about Chamber, Visitors Bureau merger

Posted: February 13, 2012 - 6:35pm

Kenai’s city council will hold a work session Wednesday on the merger between the Kenai Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Kenai Chamber of Commerce.

Those two organizations announced in January that they had become one entity, the Kenai Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center. At that time, Brendyn Shiflea, president of the new organization’s board, said the boards of both organizations had voted unanimously to combine. Shiflea said paperwork had been filed with the state to dissolve the KCVB and rename the KCC. As of Feb. 13, they were still listed as separate entites, in good standing, in the state’s corporation database.

The KCVB also wrote a letter to the city of Kenai, asking it to transfer the Facilities Management Agreement for the Kenai Visitors and Cultural Center from the KCVB to the new organization.

The visitors center is owned by Kenai, but operated by the KCVB. The city pays $125,000 for the visitors bureau to operate the facility, and also pays for most associated costs — electric bills, janitorial services, and other such expenses, according to Rick Koch, Kenai’s city manager. 

The KCVB’s contract runs through December 2013. The Facilities Management Agreement specifies that the KCVB must have written consent from the city to assign the agreement to someone else, or to delegate or subcontract the work or services detailed in the agreement.

“We are requesting that the city assign that contract to the new entity,” Shiflea said in January.

Initially, Koch said the council would discuss amending the contract at its Feb. 1 meeting. That discussion did not take place; instead, Wednesday’s work session was scheduled.

But KCVB President Fred Braun spoke at the Feb. 1 meeting, and provided the council with more information about how the visitors center is currently operating.

Shiflea said originally that no changes in employment were planned. By Feb. 1, Braun said that an interim director, Sue Carter, was running the visitors center. As of that date, Braun said the KCVB was still technically independent and running the visitors center.

Braun also provided some history of the merger. KCVB had some budget issues in the past, Braun said. The two organizations worked on the plan for joint operations for a year before both boards voted on the final effort, Braun said.

Operating Kenai’s visitors center is not the new organization’s sole focus. Shiflea said the organization will continue to work on other projects that both organizations coordinated. That includes arts programming, the Kenai River Marathon, facility rentals at KVCC and partnering with other organizations on gaming in Old Town.

The work session to discuss the merger and the city’s agreement with the KCVB is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Wednesday night. Following the work session is a regularly scheduled Kenai City Council meeting.

 

Molly Dischner can be reached at molly.dischner@peninsulaclarion.com.

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