Mike Madriaga 10:05 a.m., March 19
San Diego Tourism Authority plans to spend more than 44 percent of hotel tax on staff salaries so far this year
A big portion of revenues from hotel assessment goes to pay salaries, taxes, and benefits for ConVis employees
Proponents of San Diego's Tourism Marketing District spoke out in favor of the two percent assessment on hotel rooms at a February 25 council hearing. Some warned city councilmembers about the impact that withholding the revenue would have on the City's General Fund, and the hit that staffers at the San Diego Tourism Authority would take if the assessment was rescinded.
The warnings are not new. In a February 22 legal document, lawyers for the Tourism Marketing District Corporation expressed those same concerns.
"The uncertainty created by Mayor Filner’s unilateral and obstinate objection to policy decisions made before he took office has led ConVis to cancel a multi-million-dollar spring marketing campaign ahead of the busy summer tourism season. It threatens to prevent the TMD Corp. from funding many other summer activities that bring visitors to the City for the benefit of the lodging industry and the larger economy. Specifically, if this stand-off is not resolved by March 31, 2013, ConVis will likely lay off most of its remaining staff."
The lawyers are correct, San Diego Tourism Authority, the non-profit marketing organization that receives the majority of cash from the assessment, would take a major hit. It most certainly will not be able to pay its 70 full-time and 15 part-time employees the millions of dollars it pays each year to market San Diego to outsiders.
According to previous years tax forms, in 2008, San Diego Tourism Authority, also called ConVis, received $23,294,003 in assessments from the Tourism Marketing District. In 2009 that amount was $17,401,486. And, in 2010, the non-profit collected $17,282,885.
For Fiscal Year 2013, ConVis plans to cash a $8,059,191 check from the Tourism Marketing District. According to a "Base Integrated Scope of Work," much of that wil be spent on salaries for its employees.
In 2013 ConVis will spend $1,874,314 on sales. Approximately 83 percent of that will go towards paying salaries for its staff. The document shows $1,187,113 to be paid in wages, $108,657 for "commissions and incentives", and $255,325 on taxes & benefits.
Other projected sales expenses include $259,137 for "events, travel, and entertainment", and $48,250 on professional fees and services.
As for the marketing operation, the non-profit's main objective, ConVis set aside $3,713,148 for that task. Of that $790,074 will go to salaries, taxes and benefits for marketing employees. The remainder pays for advertising costs -- $1,966,067, research -- $346,254, events, travel and entertainment --$91,596, printing & distribution -- $5,871, and dues & subscriptions --$5,228
Lastly, there's the $2,471,729 to run the non-profit. Nearly 50 percent, or $1,221,334 is set aside for salaries, taxes, and benefits for ConVis employees. In addition to salaries, the organization plans to spend $460,395 for professional fees and services. The rest of the cash, $32,423, for travel and events, $290,868 on software and equipment support and licenses, $44,106 for "dues and subscriptions", $72,749 for office supplies, $294,435 on rent, and Software/Equip support and licenses $290,868, and $55,419 for telecommunications.
The City Council will meet behind closed doors today to discuss the tourism tax.
Here's the Integrated Scope of Work:
Correction: An earlier version reported that ConVis has already spent the $8 million so far this Fiscal Year. The story has since been revised to reflect projected expenses. I apologize for the error.