HUNTINGTON BEACH : PR Consultant Plan Will Wait for Study

The City Council has decided to delay action on a proposal to hire a $150,000 public relations consultant for the city.

Mayor Thomas J. Mays said Tuesday that a council committee will study the proposal and make a report to the overall council in the next two months.

City Administrator Paul Cook had recommended that the council hire a public relations firm for a year to help the city get national media exposure. City officials are eager to attract national attention to Huntington Beach, which is in the midst of a massive redevelopment project to turn the beachfront town into a tourist mecca.

Councilman Wes Bannister earlier this week questioned the need for such action.

Mays said he suggested a study committee because "before the council meeting on Monday night, I detected that several council members still had questions and concerns about this (public relations proposal). And so when the item came up at our meeting, I proposed that we set up a council committee to study this."

The committee is composed of council members Peter M. Green, John Erskine and Don MacAllister.

"They will work with our city staff on this and then come back to the council with a recommendation," Mays said, adding that he expects a report from the committee "sometime in January or February."

The council previously had approved the concept of hiring a special public relations consultant by putting $150,000 for such a one-year position into the current city budget, the mayor said.

"The money's there, and I still believe that basically all of us (on the City Council) still agree there's a need to come up with a public relations program on redevelopment, on funding for the new pier and other special projects," Mays said. "This committee will be studying exactly how a consultant is going to do these things and will be making sure that there is no duplication of effort."

Bannister, in his criticism of the proposal earlier this week, said that he worried about duplication of public relations efforts by the city's own public information staff and by the newly formed Huntington Beach Visitors & Conference Bureau.

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