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Kari Lucin, Forum Communications, Published November 13 2012

Buffalo City Tourism Foundation still awaits contract

JAMESTOWN, N.D. – The Buffalo City Tourism Foundation remains in a holding pattern of sorts as it waits for a legal opinion on whether its organizational structure was legally formed.

The BCTF contracts with the city of Jamestown to promote tourism using funds from hotel and restaurant taxes.

However, the city has not yet signed a contract for 2013 to replace the current contract, which expires at the end of December.

According to Jamestown Mayor Katie Andersen, when examining the contract City Attorney Ken Dalsted became concerned about some case law that called into question how BCTF was formed.

The tourism group began working on its 2013 contract in January and submitted it to the City Council for approval in April.

Andersen first brought the legal concerns to the BCTF executive board on Oct. 19.

Since then, the BCTF has been waiting for the City Council to either approve the contract as presented or find an alternative, but the council is waiting on the legal opinion of the city attorney.

Meanwhile, the clock continues to run down on the existing contract, leaving the BCTF discussing how to hire a new director for a position that may not exist after Jan. 1.

“The (North Dakota) Century Code specifically and very clearly states how the tax dollars are to be utilized and the city’s statement on it, our mission statement, all follow that Century Code,” said Beth Dewald, a BCTF member, at Tuesday’s meeting.

Kollman said the Century Code seemed fairly clear on the subject, but apparently the issues in case law had changed that.

City Councilman Charlie Kourajian said he would bring the contract issue up at the next City Council committee meeting Tuesday afternoon, so that it could at least be put on a meeting agenda at some point in the future.

“Did anyone else ever complain how the board members are chosen?” Kourajian asked.

He said the city attorney had been busy with other city-related legal issues, adding, “We’ll just have to see what our lawyer says. I’m sure the mayor’s not going to be willing until … our lawyer gives an opinion.”

Several members of the BCTF said they did not want to simply extend the current contract, because it would only put the issue off and delay resolving it.

“This is important and we’ve got to get this contract done,” Kollman said.

Given the uncertainty regarding its contract, BCTF members also opted to delay discussing the group’s strategic plan.

That plan could change significantly if the group either became a city department or an independent entity – both options if the current composition of the board does turn out to be improper according to the law.

Kari Lucin writes for the Jamestown Sun

“One of the major things was to look into the process of looking into a better building for us, and in order to do that, we need some assurance we’re going to be here for more than a year,” said Nina Sneider, executive director of the BCTF. “So until we know how all this is going to work out, we really can’t move on the strategic plan.”

In other news Tuesday, the BCTF approved several new members to replace the outgoing members.

Leaving are Bob Lulay, Corey Bayer, Mark Wolf and Pam Phillips.

The new members approved were Jon Lillejord, Mitzi Hagar and Rich Fitzer. In addition, current member Marlyn Bertsch agreed to serve another term.

Usually the next step would be for the City Council to approve the new members, but given the contract uncertainty, that too may be put on hold.

Kari Lucin writes for the Jamestown Sun

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