Tourism Director Being Introduced This Week
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The city is expected to have a new tourism director named by Thursday.
Mayor Richard Alcombright confirmed on Tuesday that a selection had been made but some details were still being worked out before he felt comfortable in making a public announcement.
"I think everybody will be excited," he said. "I think we made a good choice."
The new director of tourism and community events will be introduced at a "First Thursday" discussion group with artists at the Beaver Mill. The monthly evening sessions have been held by Eric Rudd and other artists at the Beaver Mill for some time.
Alcombright said the timing for the session dovetailed with the expectation that a new director would be hired and resulted with Rudd's invitation to attend.
Area artists and the general public are invited as well. The talk will be held on the first floor of Frog Lotus Yoga Studio from 6:30 to 8; use the center front entrance. Light refreshments will be served.
Rudd's press release on the evening stated "This discussion will give the artist-community a chance to not only hear ideas from the new director, but also to hear ideas and concerns from the community."
The director's job has been vacant since the departure of Rod Bunt this past March. Some 30 or so applications were submitted and the finalists narrowed down to a handful.
The post itself has become controversial as the city struggled with a $1 million deficit. Last month, the City Council debated tossing out the entire tourism department (the director and some cash for events) before approving the budget in its entirety.
Some may have expected the job to be back on the chopping block after the defeat of a controversial $1.2 million override to fund the deficit but the mayor says he'll fight to keep the post.
"This will be in Plan B," he said. "I'm going to leave that in the budget ... I am standing by this."
The mayor sees the director's post as a revenue generator, one that will agressively market the city and seek out grants. The goal is for the new director to raise his or her own salary through grants or increases in revenue by luring tourists and new business to the city.
A salary of $34,186 has been budgeted but the total line item for the tourism department has been cut $10,000 from this year.
Alcombright said he planned to submit a revised 2012 budget on July 26. "We cut from the city and the school side $900,000 out of the initial document we came up with in March and April," he said. "The deficit is now about $477,000 ... We're working to get it down."
One bright spot is the recently passed state budget that holds out hope of restoring some $65 million in local aid cuts. That's dependent on how the state's books look; it could be October before municipalities get firm numbers.
"We could pick up a quarter of a million ... This could be a real shot in an arm," said the mayor.