Three local organizations have agreed to work together to promote boosting the Joplin's lodging sales tax from 4% to 6% to fund construction of an agreed-upon tourism venue.
The proposed agreement among the Joplin Convention and Visitors advisory board, the Joplin Sports Authority board and the Southwest Missouri Lodging Association comes with a number of requirements that city leaders would have to implement for the agreement to be carried out. Any increase in the city's lodging tax rate would ultimately have to be authorized by a vote of the people.
Mike Wilson, chairman of the CVB board, told the board on Tuesday the agreement came about from extensive private talks he has had since June with Roger Doman, chairman of the sports authority's executive board; and Pete Hall, president of the lodging association. The discussions were authorized by the CVB board, he said.
Wilson said he wanted to reach out to the two organizations to try to mend friction generated by past disagreements and mistrust as well as bringing the groups together to identify what type of venue might be successful in bringing more visitors to Joplin.
"I'm here trying to get people together for a community cause," Wilson said. He said the goal is a worthwhile endeavor. "It will have a major economic impact on this community" if the three organizations can work together to identify and promote a project to increase visits to Joplin.
Wilson presented an agreement created from the talks for the CVB board to consider. He said the lodging association has already approved the agreement and Doman told him it would be presented to the Sports Authority board next month for consideration.
The agreement calls for a number of changes to the CVB board and how the convention bureau is operated by the city.
• A reduction in board seats from 11 to nine.
• A change to return the seat designated for the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce to the same term limits as other board seats, and for it to be filled by appointment of the city rather than the chamber.
• City cooperation allowing the board to operate according to city ordinance, including having the authority to elect its own officers, create the rules and regulations the board deems necessary for CVB operations, the ability to recommend allocation of CVB use of funds to the city manager and City Council, and the ability of the CVB to hire personnel or procure contractors to promote tourism, conventions and related activities.
The agreement, if it gains final approval of the CVB and Joplin Sports Authority boards, would also require the city to seek an opinion from a legal authority on interpretation of several sections of those city ordinances. The goal would be to resolve differences in how they are being interpreted.
Other requirements sought by the three who drafted the agreement include one that the CVB and the sports authority implement an accredited performance reporting process with the results made public, and another that a tourism development study be conducted by an industry professional.
The study would be reviewed and approved by the CVB board and recommendations made to the city manager and City Council for the type of venue that would be proposed for financing with a voter-approved tax increase in the lodging sales tax.
The sports authority in the past has sought an indoor sports venue while the CVB has spoken about the need for a conference center so the agency could sell Joplin as a site for small to medium meetings and trade shows.
After Wilson spoke about the proposed agreement, the CVB board approved a motion by member Mike Greninger to review the details of the agreement and discuss a course of action for it at its meeting next month.