Laurie Gallup, a high-profile member of the watchdog, volunteer Tourist Development Council has resigned, citing frustration with Santa Rosa’s government bureaucracy.
A two-year veteran of the council, Gallup is the owner of Navarre Properties, which manages leisure guest accommodations in several condominiums on or near the beach.
In her resignation letter sent to TDC Chairman Vernon Compton last Friday, Gallup said that the County Commission’s refusal to cooperate, or even seriously consider, the council’s recommendations on promotional spending among other matters, was a major factor in her exit.
She wrote, “I regret that I must resign my position on the TDC. The change to a government controlled model has, in my opinion, had a negative effect on the TDC’s ability to do its job promoting our destination. We have lost many of our volunteers that worked with us in Navarre because of this new structure. Frankly, it has become a chore to continually plow the same ground each year and have nothing change for us in Navarre.”
In late 2014 and early 2015 the County Commission gradually asserted direct authority over the paid staff of Santa Rosa’s Tourist Development Office, which previously worked more closely and cooperatively with the volunteer council, according to some TDC members.
The Tough Mudder factor
In a phone interview, Gallup mentioned that one of her disappointments was the County Commission’s decision last fall to give Tough Mudder Inc. $80,000 in tourist tax money as an incentive to hold its for-profit, military style obstacle event in Milton earlier this month. The TDC had recommended only $20,000.
Gallup grilled District 4 Commissioner Rob Williamson about the larger amount—which he recommended—in TDC meetings. He acknowledged that he hadn’t negotiated with Tough Mudder on their request for an incentive, nor even asked if they required such a financial sweetener.
The Navarre Press reported that Tough Mudder, a for-profit company based in Brooklyn, N.Y., sometimes schedules its events in locales that don’t pay incentives. None of the company’s ticket proceeds are shared by the county.
“Laurie will be missed on the council. She was very enthusiastic, asking questions and trying to make good decisions,” said Liz Horton, a TDC member and marketing executive for Wyndham Vacation Resorts.
Gallup’s departure means the council must seek another qualified leisure industry representative to volunteer. That choice is subject to approval by the BOCC.
As seen in the April 14 issue of Navarre Press. Click HERE to subscribe for as little as $38 per year.