Solvang City Council calls special meeting after cuts to promote tourism spark controversy

Special meeting called in Solvang to discuss tourism and auditor contracts

SOLVANG, Calif. - More than 100 people packed a special meeting of the Solvang City Council to discuss tourism and auditor contracts.

Many of the people in attendance wanted to comment on the controversial canceling of funding for agencies that promote tourism in Solvang.

Solvang resident Hazel Mortensen favors the cuts. She said, "It is like Disneyland, everyone knows we are here."

Santa Ynez Valley resident Jim Patin disagrees. "I do believe that since it is based on tourism de-funding both bureaus doesn't make a lot of sense to me," said Patin.

After hours of public comments,  council members voted 3 to two to approve $37,000 dollars for services already incurred by the Solvang Chamber of Commerce. They include Concerts in the Park, Walk Shop and Dine maps, and business classes.

People favoring budget cuts reminded newly elected council-members that they won the election by 62 percent and have the backing to prevent spending.

The board voted unanimously to hire the auditing services of Thomas Widroe who said he worked for former Republican Congressman Elton Gallegly of Simi Valley.

Councilman Robert Clarke said, "We are not trying to kill tourism we are trying to use what we can with the money that we have to serve the most residents."

The council decided to consider a $60,000 contract with the Solvang Conference & Visitors Bureau next month.

People concerned about tourism believe time will tell if tourism takes a dip in the wake of an audit and cuts.


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