Commissioners continue negotiations on tourism board issue

DEL NORTE— Rio Grande County Commissioners welcomed South Fork Town Administrator Dan Hicks to discuss candidates the town has chosen to fill two vacant seats on the Rio Grande Tourism Board during their meeting on Feb. 28.

South Fork officials voted to select two local business owners during their town meeting the night before on Feb. 27 and Hicks was present to ask the commissioners to accept their proposal in order for the town to have two representatives on the tourism board by the end of March.

Over the past several months, the South Fork Board of Trustees have been reviewing funds received in recent years from the Rio Grande Tourism Board. The trustees passed resolution 18-06 requesting that the county commissioners consider dissolving the board in favor of a solution that would require the county to disperse the funds accurately to the three municipalities. In a meeting held in October, Dan Hicks explained the process of receiving the funds from the tourism board and learned through research that the town was not receiving the correct amount based on how much tax is collected in the 81154 zip code.

During a special meeting on Jan. 16, Hicks asked the board to review and pass resolution 18-06 asking the county commissioners to dissolve the tourism board, who have not been allocating funds collected through tourism tax correctly. In a letter submitted to the commissioners by Mayor Rodney Reed it explains the issue, stating that the town actively markets and advertises to gain tourism in the 81154-zip code and that it relies on the funding issued through the county’s lodging tax fund, which they have received less and less of since 2013.

During the South Fork Town Board meeting held on Feb. 27. the board passed resolution 18-07 which appointed two members of the South Fork municipality and 81154 zip code to represent the town on the Rio Grande Tourism Board. The resolution simply states that two local residents and business owners would be appointed to represent the town and 81154 zip code on the tourism board by making sure the funds collected from lodging tax and passed to the board for allocation were handled correctly.

Hicks explained that through an interview process, he was able to choose two local business owners that would fill the two vacant seats on the tourism board and represent South Fork. “I interviewed Malt Shop owner Kim Krahn and Ute Bluff Lodge owner Christian Grill who are both business owners and members of the chamber. Christian is the current president and Kim is the treasurer. Both are more than qualified for the task and will represent South Fork well," said Hicks.

Commissioners listened to Hicks explain the reason the town decided to appoint Krahn and Grill to fill the vacant seats on the tourism board and stated that they would have to do an interview process of their own. Commissioner Gene Glover stated that he personally knew Krahn for many years, but would like the opportunity to interview Ute Bluff Lodge owner Christian Grill before making a decision on who should fill the vacant seats.

Hicks asked that commissioners make a decision by their mid-month meeting that is scheduled for March 14, so the two could be part of the April tourism board meeting. Commissioners agreed to have their decision by the above date and the topic was closed.

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