Rock Falls council moves to terminate tourism lease

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014 1:15 a.m. CDT

ROCK FALLS – The City Council on Tuesday authorized Mayor Bill Wescott to send a notice of termination of an existing hotel tax agreement and lease of office space with the Rock Falls Convention and Visitors Bureau.

State statute requires that hotel tax money be used solely for local tourism purposes.

Quincy Attorney Chris Scholz addressed the council on behalf of the CVB. Scholz recommended that the city move to postpone its vote or abandon its plans to terminate.

“I suggest both sides step back and review our options,” Scholz said. “I think it’s best for both parties to retain the status quo and bargain in good faith.”

Aldermen had received a copy of the city’s termination letter and current lease agreement prior to Tuesday’s meeting.

The current contract expires March 1, and both sides are required to give 60 days notice of their intent to terminate. The mayor said he was advised by counsel to terminate this agreement before trying to renegotiate. The city receives $1,000 a month from Tourism’s leasing of its office space.

The mayor was given authorization by a 5-3 vote. The aldermen who voted yes cited a perceived need for more cooperation between the city and Tourism.

Alderman Brian Hand said he appreciates the promotions work Tourism has done, but thinks a new agreement is needed to outline a better working agreement.

“Tourism has done a great job with marketing us as a destination point,” he said. “I don’t think we want to break that relationship, especially given its importance to riverfront development, but we need a new agreement for better cooperation.”

Alderman Jim Schuneman, who also voted to break the agreement, said he took exception to any suggestions that the city wouldn’t bargain in good faith.

“We don’t want Tourism to disintegrate,” he said. “We have every reason to bargain in good faith.”

Alderman David Hand, who cast one of the dissenting votes, said he thought the action was unfair.

“This is what I would call an 11th-hour termination,” he said. “We should have been talking about his before now.”

In other action, the council authorized City Administrator Robbin Blackert to begin negotiations with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources on the terms of a lease agreement for the Hennepin Canal property the city is considering annexing.

Next meeting

The Rock Falls City Council next meets at 6:30 p.m. March 4, at City Hall, 603 W. 10th St. 

The agendas will be posted at www.rockfalls61071.com and at City Hall. Call 815-622-1100 for more information.

The City Council meeting also can be viewed live on Channel 5.

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