Eight of 11 CVB board seats now vacant
The immediate future of the Putnam County Convention and Visitors Bureau is in question after eight of the 11 seats on the CVB Board were vacated by the appointing bodies this week.
In a 3-0 vote on Monday evening, the Putnam County Commissioners voted to vacate their five appointed CVB seats -- which had been occupied by David Jackman, Mike Hanlon, Eric Hayman, Allen Gibson and Donna Houser.
On Tuesday morning, Greencastle Mayor Sue Murray followed suit, vacating the seats occupied by Dianna LaViolette, Eric Wolfe and Gail Smith.
The moves leave only three board members -- Cloverdale appointees Dick Wells, Don Gedert and Rick Patel.
No Cloverdale Town Council meeting is scheduled until Tuesday, May 12, but town attorney Allan Yackey told the Banner Graphic the issue would have to be addressed the next time the council convenes.
For now, even the remaining three members have little power by law, as a quorum of six board members must be reached to conduct any business. The next scheduled meeting of the CVB Board had been Monday, April 27.
It is unclear what the lack of a majority of the board means for the immediate future of the Convention and Visitors Bureau.
In advising the commissioners Monday evening, County Attorney Jim Ensley reported a number of issues that call into question whether decisions made by the board can be considered official.
Among these is the state requirement that a political party have no more than a simple majority (one more than half) on a board. With seven Republicans, two Democrats and two independents, the CVB has one too many Republicans.
Additionally, state law requires that a Convention and Visitors Bureau Board have at least two members whose income comes from providing lodging through a hotel, bed and breakfast or similar entity. Patel is the only current member who fits such a description.
Finally, Ensley said he could find evidence of an oath of office for just one member.
CVB Executive Director Karla Lawless has contacted both Ensley and the Banner Graphic saying she has copies of the oaths for all members.
In vacating the seats, the commissioners said they are accepting applications to again fill the positions. Applications may be submitted to Putnam County Auditor Lorie Hallett by Wednesday, May 13. The commissioners will choose the new members on Monday, May 18.
They added that the previous board members are welcome to re-apply. However, the commissioners will not choose more than three members from the same political party, meaning at least one of the former appointees will not be chosen.
Mayor Murray is also welcoming applications for the city appointments, including from the three former appointees, if they remain interested.
Both the county and the city plan to have their appointments made within 30 days, as the appointments can be made by the CVB Board itself after 30 days.
Ensley also expressed his concern to the commissioners regarding financial accountability for the CVB Board.
The bureau does not submit a budget to the Putnam County Council, which county officials said they believed should be the case.
While unrelated to the current matter, the CVB was also found to be in violation of the Access to Public Records Act in a March decision by Indiana Public Access Counselor Luke Britt. In his decision, Britt found that the CVB was charging a copy fee of $1 per page for public records requests, 10 times the state-mandated limit for black and white copies.