The board of San Diego's Tourism Marketing District rejected new terms proposed by Mayor Bob Filner on Monday to resolve a standoff over releasing administrative funding needed to run the travel promotion agency.
The TMD has sued the mayor for his refusal to sign off on an operating agreement with the organization that promotes San Diego as a destination. A court hearing is scheduled for Friday.
Filner had wanted stronger indemnification for the city in case it lost separate legal challenges to the TMD's funding mechanism, a shorter time period, money for public safety, and for hotels to pay employees a "livable" wage -- which hotel unions estimate to be around $14 an hour.
He submitted revised terms to the TMD last week in an effort to demonstrate "that I'm open to negotiation," Filner said at a news conference he held before the board issued its rejection.
His new proposed terms still included the indemnification demand and shorter time period, but dropped the public safety and livable wage demands. In their place, he asked that the TMD commit $6 million to planning the Balboa Park centennial celebration in 2015, and for the organization to encourage that a living wage be paid.
Filner also demanded that the TMD not fund groups that pay annual salaries above $160,000.
"My version gets money quicker to the tourism industry," Filner said.
In a statement, TMD Chairman Terry Brown contended Filner's terms were illegal and contrary to approvals issued by the City Council in November.
"Although we believe this proposal is illegal, even if it could be accepted, it would irreparably damage the tourism economy and create even more instability for the over 160,000 San Diegans who work in tourism and hospitality services," Brown said. "As a result, we cannot accept this new contract and will look forward to the court's resolution of this matter."
The TMD was renewed by the City Council last November, but ex-Mayor Jerry Sanders wasn't able to sign all the necessary documents before he left office. The agency is funded by a 2 percent surcharge on hotel room rates.
"We are disappointed that we have to seek a court order to compel the mayor to do something we and the City Council believe he is legally obligated to do," Brown said. "We believe this is in the best long-term interest of the many thousands who work in the tourism industry and for all San Diego taxpayers who benefit from the hundreds of millions of dollars tourism generates in taxes and economic benefit for our city."
The City Council is scheduled tomorrow to take up a resolution calling for Filner to sign the operating agreement.
The TMD contends that a lack of funds needed to run the agency has held up a $5.4 million advertising campaign. The San Diego Tourism Authority, which used be known as the San Diego Convention and Visitors Bureau, announced last week it might have to lay off 85 employees if it doesn't get TMD money.
—City News Service