Contractual trouble

August 05, 2005 12:00 am

How do you lure more leisure travelers to Baker County?

How do you lure more business travelers to Baker County?

Good questions.

One thing's for sure: it's not going to get done through the endless rounds of assertions and assurances we're having to endure from Baker City, Baker County Unlimited and Sidway Investment Corp.

From where we sit, nobody appears to be doing their job, much less working together to identify the best ways to bring more visitors to Baker County.

Baker County Unlimited failed to get a payment to a printer. Failing to make a payment is a problem, whether it's for a brochure about conference center marketing or a utility bill. The organization should identify why this happened and make sure adequate measures are in place so it doesn't happen again.

Sidway Investment Corp. claims the departure of a BCU staffer and the missing brochure will set construction and opening for their conference facilities back by 60 days. That must be some brochure.

Then there are the authors of this whole mess, the Baker City Council.

Yes, a majority of the council refused this week to buy into a plan to prematurely scrap a Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2005, contract with BCU.

But the council is responsible for why the city must be so sensitive to what Sidway Investment thinks about BCU, even though the other 18 lodgers in Baker City who collect the room tax dollars have voiced support for BCU.

The city signed an agreement with the Sidways to do a number of things, including providing staff to help the Sidways write grants; create 150 new parking spaces "close" to the hotel; and agreeing to spend the same or more on marketing each year for the next 10 years (the base figure the city agreed to, by the way, exceeds BCU's share of room taxes by almost $50,000 a year).

We thought the contract was too vague when it was being considered.

Now we know it was too vague.

Heretofore, the city collected the room tax from lodging businesses for the benefit of those businesses and the community as a whole. Those lodgers have had some say on how the money is spent through the lodging industry's involvement in BCU.

Now the city has a contract with one lodging business which may dictate how the money is spent, regardless the opinion of other lodgers.

What we are seeing is a good example of why it is ill-advised for government and business to get too caught up in each other's affairs.