Tourism authority to let go of 31 employees - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Tourism authority to let go of 31 employees

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The San Diego Tourism Authority announced today it plans to lay off 31 employees -- or 40 percent of its workforce -- effective Tuesday.

The job losses, originally reported by U-T San Diego and confirmed to City News Service by Tourism Authority spokesman Darren Pudgil, stem from substantially lower revenues this year. The funding downturn was triggered by a lawsuit that challenges how the city collects funds to market San Diego as a vacation destination.

Leaders of the Tourism Authority -- which used to be known as the San Diego Convention and Visitors Bureau -- repeatedly warned city officials that layoffs would occur if an agreement on the funding mechanism wasn't worked out.

The remaining employees likely face pay cuts, according to the SDTA.

The lawsuit by open government advocate Cory Briggs challenges the legality of a 2 percent charge on hotel bills that comes on top of the city's regular room tax. The money collected by the 2 percent levy goes to the city's Tourism Marketing District, which funds the Tourism Authority.

Earlier this year, Mayor Bob Filner refused to release collected funds to the district until he received guarantees that the area's largest hotels would protect the city's general fund in case Briggs wins the court case.

A Briggs victory could force the 2 percent levy to be returned. But if that money is already spent on tourism promotion, it would have to come out of the city's general fund -- which pays for basic services like public safety and libraries.

The mayor brokered a deal in which tourism officials would receive a percentage of funding that corresponds to the amount collected from hotels who have agreed to indemnify the city. The newspaper reported that 34 out of 200 hotels have stepped up, or 16 percent.

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