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County Approves Tourist Council’s $800,000 Marketing Budget, Minus Raises for Staff

| September 7, 2011

Your Flagler County ad here.

Last month, Peggy Heiser, who directs the county’s Tourist Development Council, asked—and was granted—a 7.7 percent raise for herself and a 6 percent raise for her two staffers. The council voted 6-1 to grant the request, raising Heiser’s salary to $70,000. The council’s vote was only advisory, however. It had to be approved by the Flagler County Commission.

Just before today’s meeting of the commission, County Administrator Craig Coffey said, “tourism staff” pulled the requested salary increase from consideration. It was a pre-emptive move that anticipated a lot more resistance to the raises on the commission than on the council, given that the commission had not approved any raises for its own staff for the past three years.

The commission, after a half-hour discussion that focused on matters other than salaries, unanimously approved the TDC’s proposed $800,000 marketing budget, minus the $9,300 that would have gone to raises.

On the tourism council, just one member, Bob DeVore, had raised objections to the raises, but also to spending an additional $27,600 on a market research study and another $12,500 on a new strategic plan for tourism in the county. County Commissioner Barbara Revels raised the same objections. “My biggest concern is that it’s an awful lot of money,” Revels said. “I would like to see those dollars go more into a promotional area.” Even if the contracts were awarded, she was not happy about them not being bid out. “There may be companies that are in Flagler County that may have a shot at doing this kind of work,” Revels said. Heiser said she’d happily bid out the contracts.

Milissa Holland, who chairs the TDC and is Heiser’s biggest supporter, defended the spending on studies and planning as forcefully as she has on the council, citing the changing nature of the local economy. “This is an essential component for us and the continued success of tourism in Flagler County,” Holland said, “and I understand that although it might seem that it’s unnecessary to some, I would think that we would be taking a step backwards if we did not create a new strategic plan moving forward with the different dynamic that I spoke of.”

County Commission Chairman Alan Peterson couldn’t understand why the TDC would conduct a new strategic plan concurrent with a market analysis. “Why wouldn’t you want to do the strategic plan after you have the study’s results?” he asked. The answer: the strategic plan is in its final year, and its new version will have the benefit of up to eight months’ worth of the study results before it’s written.

Peterson had other concerns. “I’m disappointed that in this budget that’s increased by 25 percent that we’re still holding special grant events, the sum of money of $60,000,” Peterson said. Those are the sort of grants awarded in various amounts to organizations that hold events that bring visitors to the county—with proven stays in local hotel and motel rooms. “When I was on the tourist development council we had $100,000 provided. Since that time you’ve tightened up the requirements considerably, but you’ve split the $60,000 in two pieces,” Person continued, suggesting that not enough special events grants were being awarded—or that the criteria for awarding them could be eased in order to benefit local organizations as well. The split pot does included so-called “quality of life” grants, which are smaller but devoted to local organizations whose events don’t necessarily have to prove that they’ve filled hotel rooms. Peterson would like to see the two pots merged.

“I would like you to discuss the issue with the Tourist Development Council,” Peterson said, “as far as consolidating, if you feel you don’t want to increase the amount, because you have not spent it in the past—the various organizations that provide functions that can be used not only by the tourists but by the residents of Flagler County, that the $60,000 be considered as one lump sum.”

Holland said she’d bring up the discussion item at the next tourism council meeting.

Proposed Tourist Development Council Marketing Fund Budget for 2012

Total Marketing Fund
2011 Budget

Approved 2012 Budget
Salaries$211,508$229,300 (*)
Special Events Grants$60,000$60,000
Paid Advertising$304,686 / 46.9%$362,210 / 45.3%
VF Coop$41,500$49,000
Product Development/Tourism Asset Education$15,140 / 2.3%$11,790 / 1.5%
Media$9,024Media/PR $3,200
Research$3,785 / 1%$31,400 / 6%
Research Resource$3,800
Marketing and Economic Impact Study$27,600
Multi Media Development and Production $54,881 / 8.4%$96,000 / 12%
Web Resources$21,872$43,000
Graphic Design, paid to the Chamber of Commerce$3,000$3,500
Print Materials$29,379$17,750
Video Production Brochure Distribution$572$1,850
Video Productions$12,000
Strategic Planning $12,500
Book Direct Engine $5,400
(*) Both figures had been $9,300 higher, a reflection of the initial proposal to award Peggy Heiser a 7.7 percent raise and her two staffers 6 percent raises. The Tourist Council approved those raises in August. The Flagler County Commission rejected them on Sept. 7, approving the slightly smaller overall budget of $790,700.
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10 Responses for “County Approves Tourist Council’s $800,000 Marketing Budget, Minus Raises for Staff”

  1. Michael Murphy says:

    Well their at it agian,The duo of Holland and Heiser wasteing more money.I work in the hotel/motel business in Flagler county and saw nothing the TDC has done for tourism.They keep talking about a “strategic plan” has anyone ever seen one of their plans in writeing, I have asked to see the plan and no one ever got back to me.

  2. Michael Murphy says:

    Im sure the part of their plan to give a private firm $150.000 to help build their marina at marine land will surely put people in hotel/motel rooms.As far as Heisers rase goes,ARE YOU KIDDING, You are over paid now. “my daily rant”

  3. tulip says:

    Well at least Ms Heiser didn’t get her raise, I think the BOCC made the correct decision is saying ‘No”.

  4. palmcoaster says:

    @ Michael Murphy I know the feeling about contributing for just the benefit of the elite alone. Look at the waste on salaries over $229,300…? For what? Tourism is dead allover even in Daytona Beach were we own with friends several vacation units and is also dead ocean front there. Meanwhile the greedy Peggy Heiser wanted a raise? She should go find and apply for same job somewhere else and see of a raises too.
    Look at the disguise $362,210 in “advertising WHERE?” in unknowns and non tourist related publications like Parent Magazine where Heiser is a contributing writer?
    $31,400 in research of what and to who’s pocket? Book Direct engine to where only; Ginn Hammock Beach, Hilton and Thunder Gulch? $108,000 on Line ..what gambling? Disguising Print in two lines for $103,000 and $17,700 on “print materials” All outsource out of Flagler County with no bids…the elite at work. Then same dudes want to hit our depleted pockets more for ED. Also Graphic design “paid to chamber” $3,500 now this Chamber not only competes with its members with print etc., but also does it with graphic design….Niiice. Just one more reason why membership dwindles and stands at 10% or less of all the 9,000 small businesses in this county. Multimedia Development bla bla bla BS dearly earned $96,000 tax dollars. Big powerful hands in this cookie jar called TDC Grants. Please come up with the above detailed missing info as to who and where these funds were paid.
    Betcha that the ones from the Land Down Under as usual, think we are stupid here. Enough to let their membership FCCOC paid CEO to hire also his relatives on our membership fees.
    I applaud now Commissioner Peterson changed his venue to what we call now “to walk the line” by addressing the meager amount of $60,000 for especial events and even split in two? Also good objections from DeVore and Revels. Its’ time that the elite duo Holland -Heiser get their rug pulled from under their feet. As a matter of fact this current one should be Holland’s last term. She has gone over the line and keeps on pounding for the same elite supportive games .Probably she was the useless brainless supporter of the ED consultant at $1,200 plus/hour as well. We need change in this county and elect the one’s that represent us all, including Mr. Michael Murphy’s lodging small business and also do not vote down (Holland) grants for physical fitness/sports events that bring thousands here to compete. What about contributing TDC as well to a group of local runners w/ trainer Dawn Linsenby team captain from Flagler Beach as they only need about $340 more only of the total $540 cost for their shirts and entry fees : Look the promotion and advertising for our city and cty here: for the 10/22/11 a 50K (miles) relay race in Palm Coast. Economic times are hard and these ladies in the team already won races in Deland, St. John, Volusia Cty and others.We should support our local athletes by sponsoring their teams and /or events.
    What about TDC organizing with some of the funds thrown to Heiser and FCCOC a “parade of all local lodging businesses that contribute to the bed tax to TDC ” properly advertised in an outside of this area market…with some discount coupons and some attractive freebies…to promote them? Sure will cost a small portion of all the hundreds of thousands wasted above, to benefit the few administrators. Why Heiser and Baxter don’t get off their a….s and visit all local hotels, along with Holland? Nope as they are in the elite circle up there and busy on the Ginns Sundancer or relaxing in their executive chairs.

  5. palmcoaster says:

    They pull up the same charade in Volusia TDC…
    The high price consultants…for nothing. Middle Class America is just plain broke and jobless and do not take vacation as they did. They need now more enticement, lower prices and some freebies for lodging. Do anyone notice our airports (Miami, Orlando, Jacksonville) parking’s are fairly empty?

  6. The american says:

    Right on Palm Coaster, it is really amazing that the BOCC can approve $800,000. for tourist development,
    Where are the tourists coming from in bad economic times that we are having now. The are cutting the
    Supervisor of ELections budget to the bone. Seems to me they are minulating the ballot box through her
    Budget. This is shameful. They would not do that to Gail Wadsworth. Seems to me, she gets whatever
    She asks for. Why does she need an assistant at the tune of around $60,000. She was able to work without
    him for

  7. Ask yourself says:

    What are those being attracted to Flagler County going to see when they get here, the suffering unemployed folks around Flagler County and the vandalized vacant homes? With the internet, there is no excuse for all this spending and there’s no excuse for $229,300 in salaries for these select individuals. The Board of County Commissioners should be ashamed to have ever approved the high paid salary of Peggy Heiser for this council when this council is not needed or necessary. Was Heiser’s position ever advertised, or was this whole thing created for a handful of select individuals? We don’t need anymore grant money, we are just spending money we don’t have to get grant money! It is like buying something on sale that you will now have to take care of, that you don’t really need. Is this another Flagler Enterprise under a different name! Should we have a study to see if stupid can be fixed? Milissa Holland shame on you for being in support of wasting our tax dollars-people are more likely to find what they need and want on the internet with out all this spending.

  8. Ella says:

    OMG, Flagler County is waking up and taking charge of their future! Yeah! Instead of being the mindless public, people are finally letting their voices be heard and standing up for what NEEDS to be done!

  9. PJ says:

    Well it was only a matter of time for the County Commissioners to get the ball rolling on them now. It’s simple if Heiser was any kind of manager she would have asked for a more nominal sum like 2% across the board for her and staff. Of course not why should she. How did she get this job anyway? Sorry got off track.

    The Commissioners need to stay focused on getting people to retiire here maybe get an American Indian Tribe to put a Casino here and stop trying to cheat your staff out of the nominal raises they need. Show better management then picking on staff. Heiser does not need the raise but her staff who does the real work should be addressed properly.

    Wake up Commissioners stop the petty chump change nickle and dime savings attempts that you try to make us all believe your questioning make you a good manager for the residents of flagler county. You are all just a bunch of talking heads show some nerve.

    At least you have an excellent County Manager you all need to learn from Coffey he is a manager and one to be proud of not abused like some of you commissioners do.

    Don’t take any lessons from Palm Coast, PLEASE!

  10. palmcoaster says:

    @PJ and Askys, Heiser was hired from her position (at where else could be where the elite lands…?) the Flagler County Chamber of Un Commerce originally working as Event Coordinator and under the advise of latest “Land Down Under rocket scientist Dough Baxter” (the one he thinks we are stupid here).
    The one that since he runs the FCCOC show, came up with the idea of paying with our membership fee for overpriced equipment to compete with his members, the one that have outsource more of the entity work than never before and as well outsource the TDC originated work lines shown up above and without bids to the local Flagler County or its cities suppliers. So Chamber is more profitable; even if looses members.The one that has hired his relatives and more well connected circle elite than any other before in this Chamber (Rebecca DeLorenzo one of them, that I know so far)
    PJ regarding the county not doing the blunders that Palm Coast do…remember that was Coffey’s idea to bring another rocket scientist to blabber and fix ED for over $1200/hour of our hard earned taxes for a total over $24,000 for nothing after 5 meetings. The 2 lines for county bonds that we are still paying in our homes taxes are for those monuments on Rte 100 Taj Mahal aka county administration building and King Hammond Palace aka Justice Center with Tomoka Indian Sculpture given to Judge Hammond by Gail W. and all the interior leather luxuries that only belong in a Forbes 500 company and not in a government tax payers funded institution.
    Now they are flashing 600,000 federal grant (Mica at work) for the airport runway extension and I want to know how much of our tax dollars will take the strings attached. The airport self sufficient, oh yeah, then grants are provided by whom… Chavez? It’s shocking how the county, TDC and FCCO(U)C present it to the gullible.

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