Johns Creek mayor vetoes City Council plan to sever ties with convention bureau

In a Monday statement, Mayor Mike Bodker exercised his veto to override the action of City Council on Nov. 15 to terminate the city’s working relationship with the tourism agency. (Courtesy City of Johns Creek)

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In a Monday statement, Mayor Mike Bodker exercised his veto to override the action of City Council on Nov. 15 to terminate the city’s working relationship with the tourism agency. (Courtesy City of Johns Creek)

Johns Creek’s relationship with the Convention and Visitors Bureau remains in question for the next two weeks.

In a Monday statement, Mayor Mike Bodker vetoed the Nov. 15 action of City Council to dump the tourism agency. Council members voted 4-3 in approval to sever ties with convention bureau.

The issue will be voted on again during the next regular City Council meeting on Dec. 13. Council members will need 5 votes to set aside the mayor’s veto, Communications Director Bob Mullen said.

Convention and Visitors Bureau Chairperson Lynda Smith said board members are happy with the mayor’s veto.

“Obviously we felt the original termination was unjustified and not in the interest of the city of Johns Creek,” she said. “We’re just grateful the mayor is righting a wrong and look forward to the vote on the 13th.”

The Convention and Visitors Bureau is funded with about a third of the city’s annual hotel/motel tax revenue. The move to terminate the city’s agreement with the agency came about after Councilmembers Stephanie Endres and Erin Elwood cited the CVB for a lack of transparency and a failure to consistently conform with the state Open Meetings Act.

Convention and Visitors Bureau attorney Monica Gilroy has said the agency adjusted its bylaws as a good faith gesture to show that its meetings are conducted in accordance with the Open Meetings Act.

In his veto statement, Bodker said termination of Johns Creek’s agreement with the CVB would be against “sound public policy” given the expertise of the bureau’s board members in hotel operations, tourism, marketing and more.

“Of the local governments in our metro area, I am aware of none that utilize government staff for the work of tourism product development and/or the promotion of convention and trade shows,” he added.

Elwood disagrees and told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the city can create its own 501c(6) business organization to carry out tourism work.

“It is my understanding other cities operate in this way, particularly when a city is not large enough to support an independent CVB organization,” Elwood said.

Endres said Tuesday that she was falsely accused by the tourism agency earlier this year of threatening to stop city funding unless the nonprofit tweaked its bylaws.

“I didn’t threaten them and wouldn’t threaten them,” Endres said.

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