Allegheny County councilman proposes examination of tourism agency spending
By Bobby Kerlik
Published: Tuesday, May 7, 2013, 8:48 p.m.
An Allegheny County councilman said Tuesday he wants to set up a committee to study how Pittsburgh's tourism agency spends its tax dollars, including whether executive salaries are too high.
Matt Drozd, R-Ross, said he intends to propose an ordinance this month that would establish a committee that could include representatives from hotels and other businesses to see how effective VisitPittsburgh is at attracting tourism.
Most of VisitPittsburgh's $10.2 million in annual funding comes from a portion of the county's 7 percent tax on hotel room stays.
“I think we should look at taking those tax dollars and examine whether we stay with VisitPittsburgh,” Drozd said.
Craig Davis, president and CEO of VisitPittsburgh, said in a statement that the agency directly booked more than 223,000 room nights for 2012 and beyond, which equates to more than $190 million for the local economy.
“As a sales and marketing organization, our people are our product,” said Davis, who was paid $225,273 in 2011, according to tax filings. “For destination marketing organizations of our size, the ratio of salaries to revenue is in line with our counterparts across the country. ... VisitPittsburgh is an effective steward of the tax revenue generated by out-of-town visitors to Allegheny County.”
Other council members said they were willing to examine how tax money is being spent.
“It's a good question,” said Vice President Nick Futules, D-Oakmont. “I don't know who controls their salaries.”
VisitPittsburgh is paying for an outside consultant to measure its salaries against those of other tourism agencies nationwide. County Executive Rich Fitzgerald has criticized the agency for overpaying its executives and has called on the agency to justify six-figure salaries that topped out in 2011 at $386,025 in total annual compensation to Executive Chairman Joe McGrath, who is to retire in June after more than 22 years as its head.
Bobby Kerlik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7886 or email@example.com
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Penguins stave off Ducks’ shooting barrage to win in shootout
- Pirates seek to tap Alvarez’s remaining upside
- Trade to Penguins caps frenetic period for winger Stempniak
- Steelers restructure Brown’s contract to become salary cap compliant
- Penguins notebook: Maatta leaves lasting impression with Selanne
- Teach your engine well
- Web of surveillance videos helps ensnare suspect in East Liberty slayings
- CCAC releases details of employee buyout offer
- Turnpike’s chief compliance officer resigns, cites family matters
- Ex-tow truck operator says Pittsburgh officer, city put him out of business
- Minorities crucial to filling Marcellus shale gas drilling jobs