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."
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