Report to city paints uncertain future for Explore Elk Grove tourism agency

A report to the Elk Grove City Council from the agency responsible for transforming the city into a tourist destination paints an uncertain future for the group. 

Explore Elk Grove, a group comprised of local hotels, submitted their annual report to the city and has been placed on the consent calendar agenda item for tonight's city council meeting. The report is a so-called receive and file item and is not expected to be discussed during proceedings.

Formally known as the Elk Grove Tourism Marketing District (EGTMD), the entity was formed in 2015 and receives its funding for operations from hotel room sales taxes and does not receive funding from the city of Elk Grove. The city is, however, involved in the day-to-day operations as the agency is currently led on an interim basis by the city of Elk Grove's economic development manager Rachel Brown, who is subordinate to the city's economic development director Darrell Doan.

During their July 24 meeting, the executive board of EGTMD heard extensive comments from Doan about the future of the board. Doan said the agency was in a state of crisis and suggested they may want to consider the future of the entity given their charter expires on March 31, 2020.

The report also noted should the agency seek renewal, it will be required to start the process in December 2019 with three public hearing and that it must be completed by March 2020. 

For the calendar and fiscal year, the EGTMD has been besieged by negative publicity by a lawsuit from a former contractor who claims her work was terminated after she complained to Brown about the agency's former executive director, who she said made unwanted sexual advances towards her. Following the filing of the lawsuit, John "J.T." Thompson's employment as executive director was terminated (video of Thompson's May 2018 presentation to Elk Grove City Council below).

In the report to the city council, the report noted that the lawsuit has created uncertainties and possible settlement "costs will adversely impact the operations of Visit Elk Grove in Fiscal Year 2019-20." Pending resolution of the litigation, the report says the agency will "operate at minimal level until those uncertainties are resolved."

Citing state statutes, EGTMD did not fulfill a public document request in September from Elk Grove News seeking invoices from the law firm defending the sexual harassment lawsuit from the former contractor.  

Copyright by Elk Grove News © 2019. All right reserved.

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