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Lake Council Council votes to oppose tourism spending outside the county

Updated: January 14, 2014 11:40AM

CROWN POINT — A push by some county officials to take a stand against the tourism authority spending tourism dollars collected in Lake County on out-of-county events gained approval despite objections by two councilmen that they did not have enough information.

Councilwoman Christine Cid, D-East Chicago, introduced the resolution opposing the spending by the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority of tourism dollars collected in Lake County through the hotel tax and gaming admissions on events outside the county. The measure passed 4-2 with President Ted Bilski, D-Hobart, and Councilman Daniel Dernulc, R-Highland, voting against the resolution. Councilwoman Elsie Franklin, D-Gary, was absent.

Cid said she asked for the resolution in the wake of the decision by the SSCVA board and its leadership to move the South Shore Air Shore from the shores of Lake Michigan in north Lake County to Newton County. Unlike a similar resolution recently passed in Hammond, Cid said the resolution she presented did not specifically call out the Air Show.

“I think the intent when the County Council passed these taxes … was to promote Lake county, not another county,” Cid said.

Cid received backing from Councilman Dave Hamm, D-Hammond, who said he, too, wanted to present a resolution on the matter but learned Cid had already begun the process.

“I don’t care if we have an air show or not ... I think these monies are meant to promote tourism (in Lake County),” Hamm said.

Bilski said he opposed placing the resolution on the agenda and would not support it because he does not have enough information to make an informed decision. He said the air show will not take place for months and officials should have the opportunity to find out the reason behind the move before reacting.

“I think it’s an awesome air show at the beach. I’m a little concerned about passing a resolution I didn’t have the opportunity to research,” Bilski said.

Dernulc said he also would need more information before voting to support the resolution.

“I just don’t know enough. I, too, would like to see the money stay here,” Dernulc said, adding he would like to have Speros Batistatos, SSCVA president and CEO, appear before the council and talk about the reasoning.

“Not knowing, I don’t know how to vote,” Dernulc said.

Victor DeMeyer, chairman of the SSCVA board, in a statement Tuesday said: “In an executive session, a thorough vetting of all decisions regarding the air show was held.

“As a result of these discussions, the board is in support and enthused about the opportunities a new show location holds. Once all pertinent information becomes public, there will be a greater appreciation for the decision to move the air show, as well as a deeper understanding of the regional vision of the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority,” DeMeyer wrote.

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