SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Mayor Bob Filner said Thursday he will withhold the bulk of funding to the agency that promotes tourism in San Diego until it honors a commitment to fund organizers of an upcoming celebration of Balboa Park's centennial.
The latest squabble between the mayor and local tourism industry erupted amid reports that the San Diego Tourism Authority -- formerly known as the San Diego Convention and Visitors Bureau or ConVis -- was preparing to shut down Monday for lack of funding money.
Tourism Authority CEO Joe Terzi told U-T San Diego that the organization would close down Monday because it won't be able to pay its employees.
A months-long dispute over providing administrative money to the Tourism Marketing District, which funds the SDTA and other organizations that attract visitors to San Diego, ended in April with an agreement that, among other things, directed 5 percent of TMD revenue to centennial celebration organizers.
"They have told the centennial committee that they're going to be last on the list" of applicants for money and that there may not be much money left, Filner told City News Service. "I want that money to come off the top."
He said the TMD gave the city an invoice for around $6 million only about a week ago, and it takes two or three weeks for the city to cut a check. The agency should give 5 percent, or $300,000, straight to the centennial committee before it provides for other needs, he said.
"What they want to do is spend all the money on ConVis and the salaries, and then if there's any money left, they'll give 5 percent of that to the centennial committee," Filner said. "I'm not going to accept that. That's not what the agreement said, that's not what we talked about."
He said he would give the TMD a check for 5 percent of its funding request, and when that goes to the centennial committee, the district will get the rest.
On Thursday, SDTA Chairman Todd Shallan released a statement confirming a shutdown on Monday.
"This will bring to a halt our sales and marketing efforts across the country, including all future television and on-line advertising purchases. Unfortunately, this will negatively impact San Diego's tourism sector and its overall economy, as well as the 160,000 men and women who work in San Diego's signature industry.
"We are hopeful that the funds
will soon be released so that the Tourism Authority can resume its important
mission to drive visitor demand to economically benefit the San Diego region," he said.
Terry Brown, the district board chairman, told U-T San Diego in a statement that the "board at our meeting last week committed to funding the centennial in exact conformance with the amended operating agreement. Unfortunately, the amount of money available for disbursement was less than the mayor wanted and he indicated that he would continue to withhold the tourism funding."
San Diego Fire-Rescue Department officials are increasing staffing levels in anticipation of increased fire activity.
It was a hopping good time in Balboa Park on Sunday at the 8th annual Bunnyfest. Hundreds joined the San Diego House Rabbit Society for a big playdate that's all for a good cause. The money raised Sunday will go towards helping the rabbit society find loving homes for their adoptable bunnies.
An early morning vegetation and trash fire at a homeless encampment threatened nearby condos and resulted in at least one injury Sunday.
A major construction project at the San Ysidro Land Port of Entry will be completed ahead of schedule, officials said Sunday.
After a fall-like and mild weekend, temperatures are expected to heat up around San Diego throughout the week.
The city's search for the next top cop is underway as police chief Shelly Zimmerman prepares to step down in March.
More than 200 surfers paddled out for a daunting day-long challenge Saturday inspired by young men in the community facing a far bigger one.
A semi-truck ran over a fire hydrant Saturday afternoon in Grant Hill causing a huge geyser to spray into the air. Luckily, firefighters were just minutes away at a community event and were able to put a stop to the water quickly.