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OXNARD : Federal Grants May Aid Visitors Bureau

The Oxnard City Council will consider a proposal today to use $34,000 in federal grants to keep the city’s Convention and Visitors Bureau from running out of operating funds in March.

The money, earmarked for another organization that promotes business and tourism, could be used to keep the bureau operating through the fiscal year that ends June 30, a city report says.

Faced with budget shortfalls, the council decided in June to halve the bureau’s annual budget to $199,000. The action was taken with the understanding that city staff would find other funding sources.

In August, the council had tentatively approved a proposal to raise money for the bureau by increasing the transient occupancy fee charged hotels and motels.

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But the proposal was dropped after hotel owners vigorously opposed the plan.

To continue operating, the bureau has since cut its staff by more than half to four full-time workers. Robert Varley, bureau director, quit last month to protest the cutbacks.

As of Nov. 30, the bureau had $39,349 for the rest of the fiscal year, according to the report. Under present staffing, the bureau spends about $10,500 a month, the report said.

The Oxnard Marketing Group, the initial recipient of the $34,000 in federal grants, was formed in 1989 to promote business and tourism.

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It is also funded by the Oxnard Chamber of Commerce, the Convention and Visitors Bureau and the city’s Economic Development Department, chamber Director Bob Seizt said.


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