Council Approves Combining Economic Development, Tourism Director Jobs

St. Charles City Council voted 9-2 to combine the positions, for a savings of between $65,000-$80,000.

David Leezer will be the head of both the Economic Development department and the .

The City Council on Tuesday voted 7-2 to combine the positions, over concerns raised by residents, business owners and the Authority.

Council members Jerry Reese, Ward 6 and Mike Weller, Ward 5, voted against the plan. Councilman Dave Beckering, Ward 7, was absent.

Reese said he works in the economic development world and said he doesn't believe that one person can do both jobs effectively.

On his first official day in the combined post, Leezer said he plans to meet with Missouri Director of Tourism Katie Steele Danner about how they can collaborate. He said the department of tourism has been successful in the past year without a permanent leader because there are good people in place.

"My job is to lead, to direct, to create a vision for the department," he said.

Money Not the Main Reason for Merger

Mayor Sally Faith said the primary reason the city moved to combine the positions wasn't to save money, but was because the positions have similar purpose: selling the city.

She said departments are reviewed annually and if she sees signs that the merger isn't working—such as the number of contacts the Economic Development department makes has slipped or the number of rooms rented at the Convention Center decreases—she can recommend change.

Residents Raise Concerns

Tom Wapelhorst spoke out against the combination on behalf of the St. Charles Convention Center Authority, which oversees the St. Charles Convention Center. He said last year was the best yet with 19,000 hotel nights booked.

"We're just concerned if we don't get a full-time director, we might start losing ground there," he said. "In 2015, our bonds escalate. Our conventions average eight a year; we'd like to get to 16."

Steve Powell, who runs a consulting company for convention and visitors bureaus across the country, spoke to the council before the vote and questioned the need to save money on this position when there is a dedicated tax for tourism.

"We're in excellent shape compared to other destinations," he said. "My concern really lies with the investment I have on South Main Street. ... I hope your decision to proceed with this is correct, I really do. Because if it's not, the rest of us pay."

Group Home Approved

voted 9-0 to approve a conditional use permit for a group home for four developmentally disabled adults on West Adams Street.

Motorcycle Repair, Rebuild and Body Shop Approved

The council voted 9-0 to approve a conditional use permit for a motorcycle repair shop at 1600 Veterans Memorial Parkway on a a 1.73 acre property.

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this article had the incorrect name for the tourism department in St. Charles. Patch regrets the error. 

Carol Felzien March 07, 2012 at 01:36 PM
Thank you, Kalen, for outlining the specifics of this leadership change in the city of St. Charles. It is also important to note that in addition to David Leezer's new role at the helm of the city's primary sales functions, Martha Little has been promoted to Assistant Director of the Greater Saint Charles Convention & Visitors Bureau. A 24-year veteran of the tourism division, Martha formerly served as Director of Sales. Since June 2011, she has supported the CVB in the capacity of interim director. Carol Felzien, Director of Communication, City of St. Charles, MO
Kalen Ponche March 07, 2012 at 02:56 PM
Good point Carol. Thanks for adding that!


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