MARINETTE — The Marinette County Tourism Alliance Committee will be disbanded if the County Board of Supervisors approves a recommendation from its Development Committee when it meets Feb. 26.

The Development Committee voted 4-2 Tuesday to recommend that the Tourism Alliance Committee be disbanded immediately after county board approval with a document to be drafted by Corporation Counsel Gale Mattison.

Supervisors Penny Chaikowski and Ted Sauve, chairperson of the committee, voted against the motion by Supervisor Clancy Whiting that was seconded by Supervisor Tom Mandli. Supervisor Robert Holley was absent.

“This group (the alliance) still exists, but hasn’t had quorum for awhile now,” said County Administrator John Lefebvre. “There are numerous members whose terms expire in April. There are a couple positions that are vacant right now. If the committee feels it is ultimately going to eliminate the committee, now would be time and not wait for a couple of months after all these people get reappointed or we seek new appointments.”

He said he would hate to send out letters and try to get people reappointed or find new members “if ultimately six months down the road we’re going to say we don’t want the committee anymore.”

The future of the Tourism Alliance has been debated at least two or three times in the past with proposals to disband it or reduce it in size because of repeated trouble getting enough members to attend monthly meetings. The county board voted in February of 2015 that the group be reduced from 15 to 11 members.

“There’s always been a problem with having enough members show up,” Mattison said.

Supervisor Bonnie Popp, a member of the Development  and Tourism Alliance committees, said the Tourism Alliance Committee is usually short one or two people of a quorum because of frustration of no longer having any responsibilities or authority.

“I personally feel we should continue on (with the Tourism Alliance Committee) until we get something more firm and positive,” Sauve said.

“This organization has no authority, no responsibilities and I’m beginning to think in my mind that we may be better off starting off from scratch if we decided we needed an advisory (committee),” Whiting said.

“I take it when we do something with the economic development, that tourism is going to be a piece of that,” said Mandli.

“That’s totally up to this committee,” Lefebvre said. “We currently contract tourism promotion out (to the City of Marinette). If we ever eliminate that contract and go in a different direction, most definitely I would hope that tourism would be part of economic development.”

“So at that time, then we should make a new group for oversight for that position?” Mandli asked. 

“You could have a new group that is part of the county,” Lefebvre said. “Or it could be this committee.”

Popp said “I think it’s a difficult situation, it’s (the alliance) a great organization with a lot of dedicated people.

“They’re frustrated because they don’t have a purpose,” she said. “With no purpose or authority there are valuable people out in the county who are no longer able to bring wisdom to tourism promotion and development to the county.”

Chaikowski asked who directs Melissa Ebsch, the tourism and marketing director for the city and county, who is a city employee.

“Her supervisor is the City of Marinette, the mayor is her supervisor,” Lefebvre said. “If this committee wants to go in a different direction, that you have different ideas for her, we would pass that on, and have a discussion with her about what your concerns are.”

Lefebvre said he believes the Tourism Alliance Committee would support the formation of a non-profit organization like a Convention and Visitors Bureau for tourism promotion and marketing “because I think they have tried to create something similar to that in the past.”

The Development Committee voted later at its meeting Tuesday to approve a proposal from the Bay Lakes Regional Planning Commission to develop a strategic plan related to the role the county should assume in promoting, enhancing and/or conducting community and economic development.

“There’s quite a few question marks regarding as far as disbanding it (the Tourism Alliance Committee),” Sauve said. “I would be opposed to that until we have something firm that we can relay in the future.”

“I would vote for this because I’m against the Tourism Alliance without any authority which is what we have, even though I’m for the Tourism Alliance concept,” Popp said.