Starke County Tourism Board President Julie Dessauer appeared before the county council and commissioners this week seeking release of funds for the organization to function. Funding from the Innkeeper’s Tax has been frozen in the auditor’s office until an investigation into financial irregularities is completed. The financial issue stems from actions conducted by Jennie Carter.
Commissioner Kathy Norem said that the funding did not come directly to the Tourism Board.
“What I want to make known is that those taxes that are collected do not go to the Tourism Board. They go to the C.V.C. Board and that board is responsible for distributing the money for projects they see appropriate,” said Norem.
When freezing the money, the county officials wanted to make sure that an investigation had been completed and new procedures put into place. Commissioner Norem noted that the Convention and Visitors Commission has not met.
“The new C.V.C. Board has not met to address the issues. I want to make it clear that I don’t have anything against the Tourism Board, I just want the ‘i’s’dotted, and ‘t’s’ crossed. I don’t want the same board to go back and do what they were doing.”
C.V.C. Board Treasurer, Pat Mitchell, said that President Rich Wieczorek and Vice President Jennie Carter have resigned, and they have only six of nine members left.
The county officials requested that they reorganize. Needed is a Democrat member from North Bend Township, a Republican member from Washington Township and a Republican member from a tourist or business designation. If you are interested, notify Kay Chaffins in the Auditor’s office.
After the C.V.C. Board is reorganized, Commissioner Norem said a request should be made of the county officials to release the money.
“I think that new C.V.C. Board needs to meet and organize and decide how they’re going to conduct business. After they do that, they need to come back to us and then we can decide as a board what we would like to see done.”