GONZALES — In December, the Come And Take It Committee presented its annual request for Come and Take It funding to the Gonzales Convention and Visitor Bureau. The committee asked for $14,000 for entertainment and $6,000 for advertising. The entertainment allocation was reduced to $8,000 and the advertising was reduced to $1,000.
CVB Board members slashed the request in a second round of decision making, allotted because of changes to city council agenda deadlines and tourism staff not having time to get the item before council until next month.
Crozier opened the meeting with public comments addressing the change to the CTI Committee request.
"We have been encouraged as a board to reconsider our fundings recommended at our December meeting," Board President Barbara Crozier said, during the Public Comments portion of the CVB meeting last week. "We have been asked to reconsider based on the following criteria: Budget cuts to our Special Events Budget from $45,000 to $25,000 this year; Fairness to the other organizations who have come before us, who have incrementally each year had their budget reduced, with the intention of zeroing out the funding at the end of the third year; and the state guidelines for our mission to create 'heads in beds' and support every opportunity to do so."
CTI Committee Chairman Keith Schauer took his queue to chime in during public comments and said Come and Take it is the largest annual celebration for local and surrounding county communities and funding is needed.
"It's what we have based all of our branding and marketing on for the town, so it is a premiere celebration – It's a three-day celebration – and we fill up all of the hotel rooms in town and in the surrounding communities for at least two nights. The celebration is a fundraising opportunity for over 20 non-profit organizations in town," Schauer said. "It is a big celebration and it has been growing; we have tried to improve it over the last several years – and we have been successful in doing that. Obviously money for promotions and for entertainment it greatly appreciated and is needed in order for us to continue with the quality of the celebration we have been trying to put on."
According to Crozier, her statement was based on her own interpretation of what has been communicated to Director of Tourism Clint Hille by Gonzales City Council and the City Manager.
"It is my – and our tourism director's – understanding at this point if it had gone through to city council it probably would have been denied and this is our opportunity to revisit this and perhaps looking at those three items come up with something that would not be rejected by council when it does get included on the council agenda," Crozier said. "It is in no way intended to be a reflection on our support of the celebration or the good that it brings to our community."
Hille said multiple city council members have come to him to discuss the funding.
"I have been approached by several members of the council who had concerns about the amount that was requested."
Hille said the initial request was for 53 percent of the CVB's budget allotted for this type of use.
"It is probably a blessing that it didn't get put on city council, I feel; because, we have a chance to revisit the issue here, come back with something that's more in line with the way we have funded other organizations and not take something to city council that they – in good conscience – probably would not support," Hille said. "With that being said I have had members of city council tell me that they have the utmost respect for the board members here. You're volunteers, you give your time, but they don't like being the bad guy. When you as a board make a decision here they want to support you and be behind it."
The Gonzales Inquirer reached out to all four members of city council and the Mayor, as well as to Hille.
Hille was asked to clarify his use of the word “several” and said that more than two council members had approached him on the funding issue and he thought the application would be turned down by council as a result of those meetings.
District 1 councilman Tommy Schurig said he had no knowledge of the request.
"I do not even go to city hall unless we have a council meeting," he said. "I am however going up there to file for re-election."
Dist. 2 councilman Gary Schroeder said he was unaware of any conversation concerning the request.
"If it is not on Tuesday night, or on an agenda, I don't micromanage it," Schroeder said.
Dist. 3 Councilman Bobby O'Neal said he had not made any such statements.
Dist. 4 Councilman Dan Blakemore said he did question the funding, but did not discuss how he would or would not vote if the item went before council. He also said he has not entertained any rolling discussions with any other council members.
Gonzales Mayor Connie Kacir was out of the country when she was messaged concerning the matter and as of press time she had not responded.
Last year the CVB gave $12,000 toward advertising and entertainment for the celebration.
The board ultimately approved $1,000 for advertising and $8,000 for entertainment.
"The Come and Take It Committee is smart and they have some $200,000 – over $200,000 – that came in, so a few thousand dollars one way or another is going to get the band, or not get the band," Board member Chris Kappmeyer said. "I don't think it is fair for us to assume that whatever dollar figure we're going to give is going to make or break that particular band because they have all this income coming in and all this expense going out."