Podcast: Mary Rossing on the Northfield Area Chamber of Commerce and the Convention and Visitors Bureau

Mary Rossing, Ross Currier, Tracy Davischamber-logo nddc-logo
Our guest this week: proprietor of Present Perfect, Mary Rossing, President of the NDDC board of directors and Board member of the Northfield Area Chamber of Commerce.

We touched on many of the issues that have been discussed in the comment thread (90+ comments to-date) attached to the blog post, Outgoing Chamber president David Ludescher: frustrated but hopeful.

I’ve left comments enabled on that post, but I’d like to shift the discussion about CoC (Chamber of Commerce) and CVB (Convention and Visitors Bureau) issues here.

Click play to listen. 30 minutes. You can also subscribe to the podcast feed, or subscribe directly with iTunes.

Our radio show/podcast, Locally Grown, usually airs Wednesdays at 5:30 PM on KYMN 1080 AM.


  1. Griff Wigley said:

    As I said on the show, I’d like to know who’s on the board of directors for the CVB. Can someone copy/paste those names here?

    I assume it will be a while before the info gets added to either the CoC or CVB websites.

    April 18, 2008
  2. Tracy Davis said:

    Maybe Jon Denison can scrape together info on whether or not the City’s contract with the CVB is current (a copy of the document would be helpful), and details on what the budget is for the current and next budget cycle.

    Jon, you up for that?

    April 18, 2008
  3. David Ludescher said:

    Good show.

    April 18, 2008
  4. Jane McWilliams said:

    Yes, good show. Thanks, Griff, for raising the question about the CVB which I had raised in a blog earlier (having come briefly out of lurkdom).

    April 19, 2008
  5. Griff Wigley said:

    Thanks, David. Jane, I’m glad you drew attention to the CVB.

    Councilor Noah Cashment reported on the Convention and Visitors Bureau Advisory Board Meeting at a City Council meeting in Sept., according to those minutes.

    I can find nothing on the City’s website that mentions the CVB doing a presentation or filing a budget for the upcoming year.  All I could find was Page 145 of this 2006 COMPREHENSIVE ANNUAL FINANCIAL REPORT, which doesn’t tell us much:


    John Thomas copied/pasted some of the muni code regulating the ‘lodging tax’ that funds the CVB into his comment last week. Here’s the link to that entire section of the Northfield lodging tax municipal code.

    April 19, 2008
  6. Jane McWilliams said:

    Thanks to Kathleen McBride, today I got a (hard) copy of the February financial statement the CVB submits (monthly) to the city.

    The anticipated 2008 income is $91,700, most of which is lodging tax and the budgeted expenses, $83,831.

    According to the report – the bureau has total liabilities and equity of $173,569.23.

    Good, if limited, information. I still don’t know the who makes the decisions and why.

    April 21, 2008
  7. David Ludescher said:

    For anyone interested, there is a FREE Chamber gathering at 8:00 a.m. at Community Resource Bank to discuss property taxes.

    April 22, 2008
  8. David Ludescher said:

    I forgot the date – April 23.

    April 22, 2008
  9. Griff Wigley said:

    Jane, can you email me that PDF? I could post it here. And could you ask McBride if she could send us a 2007 CVB statement that gives a detailed breakdown on what the approx. $100,000 was spent on, eg, how much for printing, mailing, web site, Chamber staff time, etc.

    David L or Mary R, can either of you pull some strings and get the names of the CVB Advisory Board members posted here?

    I’ve emailed Councilor Noah Cashman, asking him to chime in here since he’s evidently the Council liaison for the CVB.

    April 22, 2008
  10. Mary Rossing said:

    No strings needed. Here is the CVB Advisory Board membership:

    Chair: Michelle Weber Egeness, St Olaf College
    Board Liaison: Pat Vincent, Three Links Care Center
    Joe Grundhoefer, J. Grundy’s Rueb-n-Stein
    Noah Cashman, City of Northfield
    Mike Luckcraft, Northfield Golf Club
    Jeff Hasse, Country Inn
    Charlene Coulumbe Fiore, City of Northfield
    Brian Hong, Engage Print
    Kathy Feldbrugge, Chamber

    Pupose: Enhance the economic vitality of the community by promoting the areas and what it has to offer, and invite and bring visitors to the Northfield area.

    April 23, 2008
  11. Jane McWilliams said:

    Sorry, Griff, Kathleen provided me a paper copy of the report. It does contain info on how the funds are spent (staff, printing, etc.). If you want to scan it, I’ll give you the copy – or, maybe you can call Kathleen and ask her for an electronic version.

    Thanks, Mary, for the board list. I’d say it is a good cross section.

    April 23, 2008
  12. Griff Wigley said:

    Jane, I emailed Kathleen this morning re: gettting a PDF of CVB expenses for 2007.

    As for the CVB board members that Mary posted (thx Mary!), you said it is “a good cross section.” I’m not so sure.

    Two of the CVB board members are also Chamber board members, Jeff Hasse, Chamber President and Pat Vincent.  And Chamber Executive Director Kathy Feldbrugge is a CVB board member.

    Since Noah Cashman is the CVB Council Rep and Charlene Coulumbe Fiore is the CVB Staff Liaison, the CVB board is essentially a seven-member board, three of which are affiliated with the Chamber. I’m not sure that’s a good idea, since we’re talking oversight of $100,000 of tax money. Wouldn’t that be similar to having Ross and two NDDC board members on the EDA?

    I also find it odd that the CVB board is not listed on the City’s webpage of boards and commissions. Are they somehow different than all the others listed there?

    April 30, 2008
  13. Griff,

    Have you contacted the Chamber for the report? I believe Kathy told me the final auditor’s report would be available in electronic form and was expected soon.


    April 30, 2008
  14. Griff Wigley said:

    Thanks, Kathleen, I’ll see what I can find out from the Chamber.

    May 5, 2008
  15. Griff Wigley said:

    City Admin Al Roder addresses this CVB discussion in his current Friday memo to the Council, he writes:

    The City’s lodging tax and use of the proceeds by the CVB has been a topic this week. Kathy Feldbrugge will be making a presentation to the Council on the 19th to provide the background and history of the City’s contract with the Chamber (to serve as the CVB and administer funds).

    In the meantime, it is important that you know that the lodging tax collected by the City – is not City funds. By state law, these monies must be transmitted to the CVB for tourism purposes. The only exception would be if the City retained up to 5% (?) as an administrative fee.

    Complicating the blog and other discussions is the fact that a former City Administrator changed the way the City accounted for the lodging tax. Up through the 2006 annual report – the entire financial activity of the CVB was presented in the City’s financial statements as a special revenue fund. This gives the appearance that the monies are the City’s and that is not true. The proper way to show the financial activity in the City’s statements is to show –0-. The monthly receipts should be recorded to a revenue line in the City’s General Fund with checks cut to the CVB coded right to the same revenue account.

    May 5, 2008
  16. Griff Wigley said:

    The CVB web site is also mentioned in Al Roder’s report:

    Staff had a busy week with a series of partnership meetings including the Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Northfield Enterprise Center. CVN (sic) was provided a proposal with some thoughts on how to address some issues with the web site. Discussion also included some possible partnerships as well as the need for all the economic development agencies to work on a themed approach. The new web features for CVN could include the printing of coupons for special events. Another exciting adventure includes Northfield hosting an ice-fishing event that could bring thousands of people to the community.

    May 5, 2008
  17. Jane McWilliams said:

    You’re right, Griff – the CVB board is heavily loaded with Chamber board members. I don’t have a problem with that. I meant that it is a good cross section of interested parties in the city over all. The one sector which is overlooked is the arts community. I wonder whether businesses and organizations affiliated with the arts are Chamber members. If not, that may account for the under representation.

    May 5, 2008
  18. Griff Wigley said:

    Jane, what bothers me is the lack of transparency with the CVB. It’s hard to understand how it operates. How are board members appointed? Who does the audit? How is performance measured/reported? How are conflicts of interest handled? Does the MN Open Meeting Law apply? Could another organization besides the Chamber be awarded the contract to administer the $100K?

    May 5, 2008
  19. Jane McWilliams said:

    Your questions are good ones, Griff. In re: could another organization administer the tax, Mr. Roder said:

    “By state law, these monies must be transmitted to the CVB for tourism purposes. The only exception would be if the City retained up to 5% (?) as an administrative fee.”

    I checked the city code, Ch. 74, Taxation and found this:

    Sec. 74-67. Use of proceeds.
    (a) At least 95 percent of the gross proceeds obtained from the collection of taxes pursuant to this article shall be used to fund a local convention or tourism bureau for the purpose of marketing and promoting the city as a tourist or convention center. The remainder of the proceeds may be deposited in the city’s general fund or in any other fund as may be designated from time to time by the city council.
    (b) The city council may establish or join in the creation of a local convention or tourism bureau, which shall administer the funds appropriated to it for the purpose of marketing and promoting the city as a tourist or convention center.
    (c) Annually, prior to the first regular meeting of the city council in September, the convention or tourism bureau shall prepare and submit to the council for its approval a budget of the bureau’s activities for the next fiscal year.
    (Code 1986, § 140:80)

    Does anyone know whether the Chamber has administered this since the beginning (1986)?

    May 5, 2008
  20. Griff Wigley said:

    Jane, so could Northfield Citizens Online/Northfield.org or the NDDC (both 501.3c non-profits) or some other organization in town submit a proposal to the CVB board to be the organization that administers the $100K instead of the Chamber?

    May 6, 2008

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