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Aurora to trim Convention and Visitors Bureau dollars

Updated: February 27, 2014 6:33AM

AURORA — Aurora plans to decrease its financial commitment to the Aurora Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, city officials have said.

Under a new proposed agreement, Aurora plans to contribute 90 percent of its revenues collected through the Hotel Operators’ Tax over the next two years to the bureau. That amount, though, would be capped at $175,000 annually, according to city documents.

The city’s last agreement with the Visitors Bureau expired on Dec. 15.

While evaluating an extension of the contract, Aurora Chief of Staff Carie Anne Ergo said that Aurora was the largest single financial contributor to the Visitors Bureau.

The bureau’s 2013 budget was $896,067, according to city documents. In 2013, Aurora contributed an estimated $429,912 in hotel tax dollars and a $60,000 gaming fund grant to the organization. Aurora’s total contribution was 55 percent of the group’s total revenue in 2013.

On top of the $489,912 total direct commitment, the Convention and Visitors Bureau also received a $200,000 formula grant from the state because Aurora participates in the organization.

Since 2006, Aurora has contributed more than $450,000 to the organization annually, according to Ergo.

The bureau currently represents 10 area communities: Aurora, Batavia, Big Rock, Hinckley, Montgomery, North Aurora, Plano, Sandwich, Sugar Grove and Yorkville. Three of those communities do not have a hotel, and don’t contribute financially to the organization, according to Aurora officials: Batavia, Hinckley and Montgomery.

The remaining six communities had a combined estimated contribution of $105,945 in 2013.

Under a proposed new agreement, 50 percent of all Visitors Bureau Board members will be direct appointees of Aurora’s mayor. Each municipality would continue to have at least one municipal officer on the board, according to a city memo.

The proposed agreement also states that Aurora officials would be actively involved in the bureau’s search for a new executive director. Aurora’s mayor would have final approval of the candidate prior to hiring, according to Ergo.

In early November, Visitors Bureau leaders confirmed that Chris Hamilton, who served as the executive director of the bureau, was no longer employed with the organization.

Aurora first entered into an intergovernmental agreement with North Aurora, Sugar Grove and Montgomery to create a tourism bureau in 1987. Under that first agreement, the communities agreed to impose a 3 percent hotel/motel tax and give 80 percent of the proceeds to the Aurora Area Convention and Tourism Council. The organization has since been renamed the Aurora Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

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