Commissioners to appoint 9 members

To survive, the old CVB must find a funding source.
YOUNGSTOWN -- A three-year battle over which agency will promote tourism in Mahoning County is winding down in the eyes of county commissioners but is far from over for the leader of the original bureau.
Commissioners announced Thursday that they will soon appoint nine people to the board of Mahoning County Convention & amp; Visitors Bureau. A resolution should be ready for a vote at one of two commissioners' meetings next week, Commissioner John McNally IV said.
"It's time we put this to rest," Commissioner Anthony Traficanti said.
The county prosecutor's office is writing language to define the powers of that board and the role of commissioners in the CVB's operations, Traficanti said. For example, it's not clear whether the board or commissioners should hire a CVB director.
The three commissioners and a local hotel manager have been serving as members of an interim CVB board. Commissioners will step down when the new board members are appointed because decisions should be made by people involved in the tourism business, Traficanti said.
Mahoning County CVB was formed after a previous board of county commissioners stopped funding Youngstown/Mahoning County Convention & amp; Visitors Bureau in 2003.
One-third of a 3 percent lodging tax on hotels and motels went to the old CVB and now goes into the new CVB's account.
Since the county no longer funds the old CVB, that agency must find a new funding source or cease to exist, McNally said.
Lawsuit filed
The county filed a lawsuit to get about $200,000 in bed tax dollars back from Youngstown/Mahoning County CVB. A court ruled that the old agency could keep the money it had accumulated. The county filed an appeal with 7th District Court of Appeals.
Billie Jo Zimmerman, executive director of the old CVB, said she will hold out at least until the appellate courts makes its ruling.
Zimmerman believes the county's move to replace the CVB with another agency is the result of a "personal issue between certain board members and certain county officials. It has nothing to do with performance," she said.
Youngstown/Mahoning County CVB continues to promote attractions to people who live within a 10-hour drive, especially to senior citizens who have disposable income and time to travel, she said.
Zimmerman and a part-time employee are the paid staff. The old CVB board has six members, none of whom are paid, she said.
The county's official Web site still links to the old agency's Web site, Zimmerman noted.

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