Florence Mayor Wants Change in Tourism Board

010314 LD Tourism Debate 6pm PKG

FLORENCE, Ala. (WHNT) – An idea of adjusting the make-up of the Florence-Lauderdale Tourism agency to include elected officials onto its board of directors started floating around last year.

That idea has led to many hurt feelings and misinformation being spread through-out the community.

Everything came to a head Friday at a called board meeting by tourism officials.

Dozens packed the Florence-Lauderdale Tourism board meeting Friday morning to hear first-hand how Florence Mayor Mickey Haddock wants to retool the agency.

At the heart of the matter, Haddock told the crowd he wants elected officials to have more control over lodging tax revenues that are generating more than $800,000.

Revenue the tourism board operates on.

“Not that there is anything being mis-done,” explained Haddock. “Tourism is being audited every two years, so forth and so on. I believe, to have oversight by the elected official’s standpoint in some manner.”

Mayor Haddock also told the crowd he would like to incorporate the agency to better protect them and give them the power to make more decisions.

But tourism board chairman Kelli Gaputis said it all boils down to control of the money they have coming in.

“When there is money involved that want to have accountability, which I can see that. But, we have always been good stewards of the money and have always been very open with the budget and how we are spending the money,” stated Gaputis.

By the end of the meeting, the tourism board voted to form a committee that will sit down with elected officials to hammer out differences the groups have when it comes to control.

Florence Mayor Mickey Haddock hopes to have a draft of the new legislation ironed out in the coming months and be approved by local governing bodies before presenting it to the state legislature for approval.

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