February 8, 2023
Buckhannon City Council
Upshur County Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Laura Meadows addresses Buckhannon City Council during their February 2nd meeting.
BUCKHANNON - As of April 1st, the Upshur County Convention and Visitors Bureau will no longer operate the Event Center at the Armory on Brushy Fork Road. The CVB has managed the space since its opening in 2014, but due to state-level legislation pertaining to accreditation, that will change after March 31st. However, it's still not clear who will manage the space beginning in April.
Mayor Robbie Skinner began the conversation during the February 2nd Buckhannon City Council Meeting.
“The State of West Virginia… The legislature, in their infinite wisdom, decided that in order for CVBs to operate and to gain and attain accreditation which, if they are not accredited, they cannot accept local hotel/motel revenue, they have to operate on a 20-40-40 percentage of operation… The salaries cannot exceed 40%, the operating cannot exceed 20% and the marketing for your region should be about 40%,” Skinner said.
The Mayor went on to explain how being in a smaller region, and having the convention center operate under the umbrella of the CVB was affecting those percentages, to the point of being unable to re-attain accreditation with the current setup.
Watch Mayor Skinner provide the full explanation here:
Upshur County Convention & Visitors Bureau Executive Director Laura Meadows was in attendance and addressed Council; Meadows will be stepping down as the Agency's director on March 31st:
“On top of everything else, we have a reduction in revenue from the hotel-motel tax. We’ve lost hotel rooms and we can’t get those back at this point… All those things combined have made the perfect storm,” Meadows said.
Mayor Skinner continued by explaining how this move will put the percentages where they need to be to regain accreditation and further discussed the lease agreement the City has with the Army National Guard.
"If (when) the CVB were to relinquish control of the convention center, it puts their percentages much, much closer... really, they fall in line with where they need to be to obtain the accreditation. So, that's where we are," Skinner stated.
"And the other side of the coin here is that the lease agreement with the Armory is with the City of Buckhannon. (The City) named the CVB as the manager of the space. and those are the terms of the lease that we have in agreement with the Army National Guard," he said.
Watch the Mayor's full remarks, including potential options for moving forward here:
City Councilman C.J. Rylands recommended that conversations be had with the Armory National Guard prior to moving forward.
"Everything starts with a conversation with the lessor, to find out what other possible options are," Rylands said.
Watch Rylands address Council and provide additional thoughts regarding the Event Center's business volume, or lack thereof:
City Attorney Tom O'Neill spoke to Councilmembers and reminded them that, regardless of anything else, “The city has two financial obligations with respect to (the center); One is to the Guard for 17% of all the utilities at the facility... The Guard certainly could absorb those themselves if they so chose. However, for the next 40 years the city is going to be paying a loan to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Guard cannot waive that,” O’Neill said.
Watch City Attorney Tom O'Neill's full comments and counsel to Council here:
City Recorder & Information Coordinator Randy Sanders wanted to stress that the Event Center has commitments in place that will be fulfilled by the City.
"We have an obligation to contracts that are out there through the month of September, so no matter what we decide, the City has already committed to a few signed contracts… we have to fulfill those obligations", Sanders said. Council unanimously agreed that the City will honor the agreements that have already been made.
Watch the final segment where Councilmembers agreed to schedule a meeting with the West Virginia Army National Guard to discuss potential lease options, as well as additional comments from CVB Executive Director Laura Meadows and members of City Council: