Solvang council OKs short-term contract with Chamber of Commerce

Solvang council OKs short-term contract with Chamber of Commerce

In front of a packed chamber, the Solvang City Council voted 3-2 Tuesday evening to approve a short-term contract with the Solvang Chamber of Commerce, at least temporarily reinstating a working relationship that dates back three decades.

The council also voted 4-1 to increase funding for an extensive audit of city services, and in a separate vote tabled any decision regarding the Solvang Conference & Visitors Bureau contract until another meeting.

Councilwoman Karen Waite was the lone dissenting vote on the council’s decision to increase the budget for Special City Auditor Thomas Widroe from $2,500 to $52,000.

Widroe, who was appointed to the position at a special closed City Council session June 17, requested the increase to the proposed contract after interviewing each City Council member about interests in special investigations and forming an extensive scope of work for the service.

Among his duties, Widroe is charged with analyzing the organizational structure of comparable cities, “including departmental responsibilities, staffing levels, use of consultants or contract employees and scope of work accomplished, and make recommendations on changes to the city’s organizational structure to ensure alignment with best practices, efficient work flows, and overall cost savings.”

Under the agreement, Widroe will audit the city’s Planning Department and research the need for an economic development liaison and public information sharing efforts, which could include a public information officer.

He also will work with a council ad hoc subcommittee to review destination marketing services.

In addition, the special city auditor will review the city’s grant spending, City Council protocols and city infrastructure, public works and capital improvement projects.

Widroe is also directed to research and make recommendations regarding potential regional collaboration for the water and wastewater treatment plants and research a citywide attrition policy that could streamline city staffing.

The auditor will be pressed into service immediately, as the City Council directed the staff to continue negotiating contracts with the Solvang chamber as well as the CVB.

The council’s vote to approve a new three-month contract with the chamber — with councilmen Chris Djernaes and Daniel Johnson dissenting — includes $15,000 for completion of the Walk Shop Wine Dine Map already in production.

It also includes $20,000 for the remainder of the summer 2019 concert series, including musicians, rack cards, a banner and city fees, and $2,500 for business classes offered by the chamber.

The ad hoc destination marketing services committee may authorize Widroe to put out a request for proposals for those services or develop a study session for the council and community to learn about best practices for the industry.

The council decided to delay any decision on the CVB contract after representative Jessy Verkler said the proposed contract published with the council agenda did not match the version the CVB board had considered.


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