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Mayor says city made a mistake

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By David Giuliani

Mayor Tony Marquez named members to an advisory panel that makes recommendations on how to spend lodgers taxes, just days after it became apparent that the city may have violated its own ordinance.

The City Council recently approved a $192,000 contract for the Chamber of Commerce to provide services to tourists. But the council did so without seeking recommendations from the Lodgers Tax Board, which the mayor disbanded along with all other committees shortly after taking office in March.

The council has also approved small amounts for groups to promote the Heritage Week events and the North-South All-Star games without going through the board.

State law and a city ordinance require that the city have such a board to make recommendations on how to spend lodgers taxes, which are added to bills at motels.

“It’s public knowledge that we made a mistake without going through the lodgers tax board,” the mayor told the council at its meeting Friday.

The board is supposed to have two representatives from motels, two representatives from tourist-related businesses and a community member.

Marquez asked the council to ratify his selections: Alfred Nelson as chairman (community member), Kay Dorman of Holiday Inn Express, Charlotte Moore of Dick’s Deli and Liquor, Irene Wolff of El Fidel Hotel and Louie Loera of El Encanto Restaurant.

The council unanimously approved the mayor’s selections.

City Manager Sharon Caballero said outside the council meeting that the lodgers tax board would meet soon and provide recommendations on the chamber contract in time for the council’s meeting on Aug. 6.