Mayor agrees to release tourism funds - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Mayor agrees to release tourism funds

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Mayor Bob Filner agreed Friday to release city funds for the agency that promotes San Diego as a vacation destination, bringing a quick end to the latest dispute between the two sides.

According to the Tourism Marketing District, Filner pledged to provide nearly $6 million needed to operate the organization.

On Thursday, the mayor refused to give money to the TMD because he said its board violated terms of an earlier deal in which 5 percent of its revenues would be passed on to organizers of a yearlong celebration of Balboa Park's centennial in 2015.

A centennial committee spokesman, however, said they hadn't even made their formal presentation to the TMD board. That happened earlier today, and the TMD authorized nearly $500,000 for the celebration organizers.

The TMD is primarily funded by a 2 percent charge on hotel room rates. The district distributes the revenue to other groups that attract visitors to San Diego, including the San Diego Tourism Authority -- formerly known as the San Diego Convention and Visitors Bureau or ConVis -- the operators of the city's two college football bowl games, and Sunday's Rock'N'Roll Marathon.

Without the pass-through of money, the San Diego Tourism Authority announced this week that it would have to shut down on Monday, and lay off 85 employees.

Previously, Filner refused to provide the city's portion of funding for the tourism district because he wanted, among other things, stronger protection for the city in case of adverse rulings in lawsuits filed against the agency, higher pay for hotel workers and money to be directed to public safety.

He eventually negotiated a deal that included better legal protection and an opportunity for the Balboa Park centennial group to apply for 5 percent of the agency's funds.

He said the TMD only billed the city a week or so ago.

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