EUGENE, Ore. — At least for another three years, Travel Lane County’s budget is safe. The non-profit’s contract as the sole destination marketing agency was up for grabs this year, drawing attention and interest from out of state.
A review committee recommended to the Lane County Board of Commissioners that the destination marketing contract be divided. It wanted to take a half a million dollars, usually given to Travel Lane County, and hire an outside agency to do the advertising. But with a vote of five to zero, commissioners said no to that recommendation.
It was a full house during that week’s commissioner meeting. And one after another, people spoke out in support of keeping Travel Lane County, but there were a few people at the meeting that didn’t agree with all the dissent over the matter saying Travel Lane County didn’t care about what was best for the county if it was so troubled about the process for public contracts, which are meant to ensure that the money serves the highest public good. It was a point also made by the commissioners.
“It is a bit odd that an agency would describe a contract as theirs and expects that the local people won’t compete with them,” said Lane County Commissioner Jay Bozievich.
Fellow commissioner Faye Stewart said, “It’s our obligation to do these processes to make sure we are making the correct decisions and they are legitimate based on the information we have.”
In the end, the commissioners decided it was best for everybody to provide the non-profit with another three years, a move that made the non-profit that much more grateful to be serving Lane County.
“People came from all over Lane County. They came from the private sector. They came from the public sector and that kind of support is pretty humbling and very motivating,” said Kari Westlund, Travel Lane County President and CEO.
The commissioners said they made their decision because of the need for a permanent county administrator and the desire to further look at their options. Travel Lane County’s contract will be up for review annually as a part of the approved proposal.