Roseburg City Council voted to give notice that it would terminate its visitor contract with the Roseburg Area Chamber of Commerce during its regular meeting Monday night as several councilors questioned the performance of the chamber.
The city unanimously decided to give 90 days notice before terminating its contract with the chamber. Councilors said the contract, which was originally put in place in the early 1980s, is outdated and doesn’t allow for adequate evaluation of the chamber’s use of city funds to bring in tourism and encourage economic development. The chamber can reapply for the contract, however.
The chamber receives money from the city hotel/motel tax. Since 2012, the chamber’s revenue from the city has increased by about 50 percent — from nearly $400,000 in 2012 to nearly $600,000 in the most recent contract.
But councilors said they aren’t sure how well that money is being spent.
“We just don’t know if they’re doing a good job,” said City Council President Tom Ryan during an interview Tuesday morning.
The city will create a request for proposal that will allow the chamber or any other entity to apply for the contract. By the end of the 90 days, the city will award the contract to whoever meets the city’s new standards.
City Councilor Andrea Zielinski voiced concerns to Allen Pike, the chamber’s board president, about whether the chamber has been using social media to promote local businesses at the Monday meeting.
“We’ve voiced concerns to them the last couple years they’ve presented to us,” Zielinski said Tuesday morning. “It doesn’t look like they’ve been able to use social media effectively. And that’s how people get information today. There’s so much good stuff going on with businesses in this city and we want to make sure that is highlighted.”
She said she was disappointed Debbie Fromdahl, the chamber’s CEO, wasn’t at the City Council meeting to hear the council’s concerns.
“I value the work that she has done for the city, but this was an important decision and I think she should have been there,” Zielinski said.
Fromdahl was not available for comment Tuesday morning.
Pike said he wishes the city could have created its request for proposal with the standards it would like the chamber to meet before it was put on notice.
He said the chamber has been aware of the city’s concerns for a long time, but that made chamber officers unsure of the future. That has affected their operations recently, he said.
“It’s hard to plan for the future if you’re not sure if there will be one,” Pike said.
He is concerned that there will be a lag between when the city awards the contract and when advertising can be created.
Pike said plans to meet with chamber members and others in the tourism industry to figure out whether or not they will submit a proposal for the contract and how it will look.