BOMA, EDAC in middle of Town tourism tussle

New position, part-time coordinator, featured in BOMA’s $120,000 plan

After an hour’s discussion, Farragut Board of Mayor and Aldermen has agreed to hire a part-time tourism coordinator, who would implement a marketing plan for the Town.

The Board voted unanimously in favor of a marketing plan, which is budgeted at $90,000 and hiring a part-time tourism coordinator, budgeted for $30,000, during its meeting Thursday, Sept. 14 despite objections from three Farragut residents and concerns from Alderman Bob Markli.

The biggest bone of contention, brought up by Markli, was having more specific metrics in place to measure the effectiveness of the program and the coordinator.

“It’s definitely going to take some time to come up with all those metrics to see how successful this [plan] is,” Town administrator David Smoak said.

“It seems to me, if we are going to hire someone and give them a position, then we should have specific goals in mind before we hire them,” Markli said.

At the same time, three residents — John and Cheryl Nehls of Smith Road and Robin “Bob” Hill — asked the Board to defer action.

“I would like to see this [issue] postponed indefinitely,” said Hill, a former chair of Farragut Municipal Planning Commission. He recommended looking at what Knoxville is doing and use talents of people in Farragut.

“It’s easy to put someone on the payroll, but it’s hard to get them off. Be frugal,” Hill warned.

Cheryl Nehls recommended creating a tourism committee instead of hiring a tourism coordinator.

“If you postpone [a decision} for a meeting or two, it would be a good idea,” John Nehls said. “I don’t see a rush.”

“I agree with the speakers,” Markli said. “I am aware of the creeping expansion of our staff. The ongoing overhead expenses won’t go away.”

“If we want these things done, we are going to have to hire someone,” Alderman Louise Povlin said.

Vice Mayor Ron Pinchok

also supported the marketing plan and hiring of a tourism coordinator.

“I think what we need to do is get the groundwork moving forward on this and then I think, down the road six months or a year, set some more specific goals,” he said. “I think there’s so much here that needs to be done just to get off the ground, get moving, that I think that’s where we need to focus, then insist on more specific goals as [Markli is] mentioning.”

”I think it’s too early to set goals,” he added.

“I disagree,” Markli said. “I think there needs to be something specific in mind before we implement the marketing plan. There has to be measurable outcomes.”

“How long do you anticipate we need this new person on the payroll to implement this?” he asked Smoak. “Is this a six-month thing, a one-year thing?”

“This will be an ongoing thing,” Smoak answered. “I think this will be annually.”

Another suggestion from residents was to hire an intern in the position, but Smoak warned an intern might not have the expertise needed to implement the marketing plan.

Smoak said he and the Town staff have been working for several months on a plan to attract visitors and increase residential marketability “for residents to shop more in our Town and drive traffic to our retail establishments in our Town, our hotels and our different venues that we have.”

In October 2016, the Board hired a marketing firm, Girl on the Roof, to analyze all the marketing assets Farragut has and to come up with a marketing plan.

“To accomplish these annual goals, I am proposing to hire a part-time tourism coordinator who would help refine our marketing strategy and implement the plan,” he said, adding, “Our current Town staffing does not allow us for us to have the expertise or the time we need to devote to this endeavor.”

In other action, the Board approved unanimously:

• An ordinance that consolidated and updated its ordinance codes.

• Directional signage for 2017 Parade of Homes.

• Dates for the November and December Board meetings, which will be 7 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 9, and 7 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 14.

In other business, Mayor Ralph McGill:

• Presented ann contributions of $22,000 each to Farragut Primary, Farragut Intermediate and Farragut High School and FHS Education Foundation

• Read a proclamation declaring Sept. 17 through Sept. 23 Constitution Week in Town and a

proclamation declaring Oct. 11 National Daughters of American Revolution Day in Town.