Tourism board revises budget after secret session about WSF

Mary Stewart,

The Converse County Tourism Promotion Board held an illegal executive session last week to discuss funding for the Wyoming State Fair. After being confronted about it, the board met again Monday in a public session to handle those same discussions and their proposed budget once again, albeit with a slightly different outcome for the Wyoming State Fair.

“The question of legality (at last week’s meeting) was not our intent,” board chair Kim Pexton said to open Monday’s meeting. “I take full responsibility for what happened.”

When the tourism board’s 2020-21 marketing plan came up on the agenda last week, the board went into executive session to discuss funding for the Wyoming State Fair and other projects, though Pexton rejected the idea that the budget was included in that. The Wyoming Open Meetings law prohibits boards which manage public funds to have discussions about the budget or funding behind closed doors.

“Everyone on the board is a volunteer, and we have a steep learning curve,” Pexton said. “We are on the board because we care about our county.”

Wyoming State Fair Director Courtny Conkle and Converse County Fair representative Morgan Hayes were on hand to present their request for marketing funds for their projects, both for a second time and in public.

Just like last week, when the tourism board allocated $56,000 for the state fair marketing plan, the board approved $56,000 – the minimum Conkle said she needed to pay for the marketing plan contract of more than $123,000. Initially, she had requested $96,000 from the tourism board, which had a budget for state fair of $107,000.

“This is not our typical ask,” Conkle said. “This is our first year with a new branding and logo, and we are building the foundation for our digital infrastructure which includes ticket sales, contact tracing and marketing materials for every structure.”

The one-time costs for that foundation drove up the overall marketing budget, she explained, but it will be worth it in the future.

In Monday’s meeting,  Conkle had pared her request to the $56,260.

Meanwhile, in a separate item, she told the board that the digital sign they agreed to buy on the fairgrounds last fall is finally being scheduled for installation – right before or during the August fair.

CCTPB member Jane Garber noted the board has an agreement with the fair to use the sign for events county-wide throughout the year.

Pointing out that the county fair in July is also now a go, Hayes asked for $3,619 for advertising and marketing.

The board voted unanimously in favor of both organizations’ requests, though it was a little unclear whether the funds will come out of the current year’s budget or from the next budget which begins July 1.

“We get our money from the state lodging tax, and we have seen those funds decrease significantly since March,” Pexton said. “We had some difficult decisions to make. We have done the neatest things in the county and have helped with as many events as possible.”

The board’s bylaws allows them to sweep any money left in any of the accounts (Douglas, Glenrock, county-wide and state fair) into a discretionary fund. In their proposed budget, the money from events not held this year along with money from previous years totals $518,834.

They  projected $208,000 in lodging tax revenues this coming year, bringing their 2020-21 budget to $727,394.

Their marketing plan and budget show spending of roughly $208,000, leaving the $518,000 in reserves for the following year.

The tourism board will hold a public hearing on the budget on July 21 at 5 p.m. in Glenrock Town Park prior to the start of their regular monthly meeting. They also voted to change their meetings to the third Tuesday of the month instead of that Thursday going forward.


Glenrock Independent

Physical Address:506 W. Birch, Glenrock, WY 82637 Mailing Address: PO Box 109, Douglas, WY 82633 Phone: (307) 436-2211

The Glenrock Independent is located in the Bronco Building

Office hours: Monday, Wednesday, Friday - 10:00 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday - 9:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.

Subscriber Login