There are more new developments at the Knoxville Convention and Visitors Bureau---or "Visit Knoxville." Its Board of Directors unanimously approved an employment contract at their regular meeting Tuesday morning for president Kim Bumpas.
Under the new one-year agreement, Bumpas will receive a base salary of $125,000, plus benefits, but no bonuses. It is retro-active to July 1, 2012, and expires on June 30, 2013. Board Chair Bo Connor said the amount is a pay decrease for Bumpas. Previously her annual base salary was around $105,000 plus benefits; she also earned approximately $40,000 in bonuses according to company financial documents. Connor said the $125,000 is on the "low-end" of the salary range for comparable positions in the tourism industry.
The deal is less complicated, and the amount is much lower, than the contract for former CEO Gloria Ray. Her annual compensation totaled more than $400,000. That number included a base salary, benefits, and bonuses for tourism bookings, media coverage, and retention. Bumpas was the organization's second in command when Ray left.
The CVB's attorney, Ward Phillips, called those bonuses "legal issues" back in February after a 10news investigation uncovered questions about the tourism organization's spending.
Public funding for the CVB runs out on October 31, 2012. If the City of Knoxville and Knox County decide to not award the new joint contracts to "Visit Knoxville," Bumpas will remain in her position at least through the contract expiration date.
"Visit Knoxville" is one of seven organizations that recently answered an RFP jointly-released by the City of Knoxville and Knox County. Connor said "Visit Knoxville" could possibly renew Bumpas's contract even if the CVB loses a majority of its funding by not getting awarded the local government contracts.
"We still have assets and we still could operate. So, there are a number of different options for us, but we plan on continuing in some capacity. We'll have to take a hard look at that," said Connor.
The board will take an extra month to consider changes to its meeting bylaws to give its members plenty of time to read through the document. The most significant change is in regard to the number of board members; the governing body is officially reduced from 23 to 11. Pugh & Company recommended that reduction in the results of the external, county-requested, audit of the CVB's finances and other documents they performed this spring.
After a unanimous vote, the board has also selected Pugh and Company to be the CVB's new auditor. The organization, and former auditor Van Elkins, mutually split ties a couple of months ago. During the fall-out of the organization's spending, it came to light that the firm had been auditing its own work. That is not illegal, but Pugh and Company suggested it was a conflict of interest.
"As we're re-evaluating everything that we're doing, we're also measuring events differently. We're also talking teamwork, and being a bigger community partner than we've been in the past," explained Bumpas.
Bumpas said one of her goals is to foster better communication among the CVB's employees, its Board of Directors, and the community. She has maintained since Ray left the organization that the lack of transperancy in the past primarily contributed to a lack of public trust. Now, Bumpas welcomes the public to look at the CVB's records at the CVB's office, questions about its business practices, and suggestions for improvement.
Bumpas said repairing public trust goes hand-in-hand with evaluating business practices, "Tourism is not a top-secret type business. You know, we're not building bombs or doing anything crazy. We're literally doing something that's fun that this community should celebrate. So the information will be there and be extremely transparent."
The CVB's next board meeting is scheduled for September 25, 2012 at 8am at its offices at 301 South Gay St. in Downtown Knoxville.