IS THE VCTC A PRODUCT MANAGEMENT, PROPERTY MANAGEMENT OR TOURISM ORGANIZATION?
By Nicole Barde
The January meeting was cancelled due to inclement weather.
During the agenda review VCTC Executive Director Deny Dotson announced that there wouldn’t be a budget review or update. He noted that he hadn’t gotten the information back from Comptroller Hugh Gallagher for the meeting. Well, we haven’t seen any numbers in a few months it’ll be interesting to see if the spending is still eating into the VCTC “general fund”.
Now it’s time for the new 2017/2018 budget and it looks like the board and the public will be the last to see the draft budget. Deny has submitted, and the board has approved, a deficit budget for the last few years it’ll be interesting to see what gets submitted this time since Hugh has stated publically that continued deficit budgets won’t be tolerated any more.
The Tourism Tax looks to be on track with budget projections and the Transient Lodging Tax is somewhat behind. Still no word on whether the Merchants will be assessed an additional fee to continue to support the VCTC‘s spending.
Deny mentioned that the County and the school district are in talks to have the County take over the management of Pipers Opera House. Recall that the school district purchased it from the non-profit for $1 and took over the full payments on the mortgage which was shared with the County at the time. The school district then took over active management of the events. Now it looks like the school district wants to spin it back to the County and Deny says there is talk of giving it to him to manage along with the VCTC.
There was a good conversation about how big a challenge Pipers is especially given the huge structural and infrastructure needs. On the one hand I am glad that Pipers has the County as a financial “safety net” to protect it. On the other hand I am very disappointed that Pipers is getting handed around back and forth and has no real focused management, plan or direction. There is a focused effort at getting grants and in utilizing the venue to generate revenues but that’s not enough, in my opinion, to do the necessary job of maintenance let alone repair, refurbishment and rebirth. Such a pity.
Anyway, the conversation focused on how Deny is already managing the Gold Hill Depot venue, the Black and Howell building stabilization and the Fairgrounds property development and that he needs to focus on his VCTC mission and not get scattered.
Later in the meeting there was a brief conversation about the progress of Cemetery Gin and I commented that it was basically a product marketing function and asked when it would be handed off to someone in the business of product development and sales since that wasn’t what VCTC was supposed to be doing. Deny replied that he would be happy to hand it off but that it needs to be a robust product or no one will take it. While I agree with this view I think that Deny can begin to look for potential “suitors” to take it off his hands no later than the end of the new budget year 2018. I also asked if it was paying for itself yet and if all the sunk costs have been recouped. Deny said that there would be a full review of the numbers at the next (March) VCTC meeting. I just hope that he has the numbers from Hugh’s office for this and all the other budget related items so that there will be some accurate transparency of VCTC spending and revenues.
The Black and Howell building has become a public hazard. It has some serious safety issues since it is sagging and caving into its own hole. The county will have to tear off the deck and secure the building to ensure that children and animals can’t get under there and get stuck and die.
Can’t stand it.
Recall that this purchase was made by Deny before the public had a chance to have any input. By the time it was brought before the board the contract was already signed and despite the objections made by me and several others the Board ENTHUSIASTICALLY approved the all cash purchase. Fast forward to last year when the County had to step in to keep it from sucking the side street into its hole. Deny didn’t have the money to do mitigating repairs so the County had to do it. Where the detractors saw a decaying money pit Deny had dreams of a new Visitors Center and museum. I guess eventually it might become something useful …..but right now……..it’s a decaying money pit.
Katy Demuth gave an update on Groups and the Visitor Center which you can find HERE. She proposed an interesting idea for a “Kids Club”. It would give the kids admission and a unique experience at six of the local museums such as a “paint and sip” at St. Mary’s or a Fire Safety demo at the Fireman’s museum. I think this has good potential especially in reaching out to the field trip program at the Washoe schools.
Katie also mentioned that Ollie Smith (British travel guy) did 15 minutes of his 1 hour travel show on Virginia City. His show gets broadcast in 7 Countries and is a great promotional activity for the town.
Scott Jolcover brought in the Peppermill’s internal magazine. In it he showed us that there were 4 pages dedicated to things to do in Virginia City. In his conversation with the Peppermill representative he was told that they LOVE to send people to Virginia City. It’s better for them to send people to places that don’t compete with them in gambling and I guess we’re it! They may have this representative come in to speak to the Board at a later time.
You can find the Marketing updates and a look going forward HERE. The Board was shown a “Year in Review” video as part of the Below the Surface video series. It was a good compilation of all of last year’s events…a very energetic video.
Deny announced that the VCTC will be getting its money back from last years failed 4th of July fireworks and will use the same vendor again this year. The Fire Department, however, has to identify a safe locale to shoot them from. Hope this works out for us all!
The annual events calendar is done and out. You can find it HERE. The cool thing this year is that not only is the calendar out but the events are all on the website and linked so that you can buy tickets for any and all events in advance. The collateral, website and other materials also have the same look and feel.
The March 11th Rocky Mountain Oyster Festival budget was approved but they are still looking for cooks. To that end they have increased the prize money hoping that we get more entrants.