Knox County commissioners approved a late addition resolution at their regular meeting on Monday that allows Mayor Tim Burchett to extend the county's contract with the Knoxville Tourism and Sports Corporation by four months.
This move comes just days before KTSC's contracts with both Knox County and the City of Knoxville are set to expire. It's also an attempt to try and line up the county contract with the city contract.
KTSC's board of directors voted in March to end contracts with both local governments on June 30th. That is the date when the city contract, worth about $1 million in hotel/motel tax revenue, has always been set to end. The county contract, worth about $3 million, was set to expire in 2016. That was after pressure from both Mayor Burchett, and City of Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero, put pressure on KTSC, a reaction to legal issues surfacing about the employment contract for former CEO Gloria Ray.
The county approved extension ends on October 31. County leaders call it a "stop-gap" measure so that marketing and promoting local tourism doesn't end as the process to select the next contract-holder moves forward.
"Our concern is that if we don't take this action everything could be in limbo. So we want to have KTSC doing its work. In the meantime, the RFPs would go out and we will determine which organization is going to continue after that," said Commission Chair Mike Hammond.
Both governments issued an RFI, or Request for Information, for their tourism contracts a couple of months ago. Four organizations, including KTSC, submitted ideas about how they would promote the Knoxville area if they are awarded the contracts. City and county leaders are committed to working through the RFI process together, so that whatever organization they choose, gets both contracts concurrently.
County leaders said it will likely be sometime October before local government leaders make a final decision on who gets the contracts.
The Knoxville City Council is set to vote on a similar four-month contract extension for KTSC at their regular meeting on Tuesday night.