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updated: 6/6/2018 3:16 PM

Elgin tourism bureau president laid off by board

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  • Kim Bless

    Kim Bless

 
 

The longtime president and CEO of the Elgin Area Convention and Visitors Bureau will be laid off effective June 30 as result of the city's decision to cap contractual salary expenses for the agency.

Kim Bless didn't immediately return a request for comment. The announcement was made Tuesday afternoon in a news release.

In March, the Elgin City Council approved a $196,700 one-year contract, the first between the bureau and the city, which previously gave the bureau money under a generic agreement.

The contract limits to 50 percent of that amount how much the bureau can spend on salaries, payroll taxes and benefits -- similar to a matching state grant -- and required the bureau to create a comprehensive marketing plan for the city.

The bureau's current $435,000 budget for the fiscal year ending June 30 included $131,200 in salary and vehicle stipend for Bless, and about $106,000 combined for two more full-time employees and one part-timer. Under that model, the bureau's spending would have exceed the total allotted amount by about $79,000.

Due to these restrictions, the board of directors "made the incredibly difficult decision" to lay off Bless before the start of the new fiscal year July 1, the release said.

Marilou Pilman, acting director of marketing for Grand Victoria Casino and chairwoman of the bureau's board of director, called Bless a "consummate professional" and her departure "a big loss."

"Over the past 15 years, Kim Bless has been the face of the Elgin Area Convention & Visitors Bureau and it's difficult to imagine the tourism bureau without her leadership, enthusiasm, incredible tourism experience, and the respect she has earned around the state of Illinois for her efforts on behalf of tourism in the Elgin area," Pilman said.

Blessed served as chairwoman of the Illinois Council of Convention & Visitors Bureaus and is the group's legislative chairwoman.

The Elgin Area bureau represents nine municipalities, only three of them with hotels. Elgin has nine hotels and has contributed $200,000 or so yearly to the bureau.

West Dundee has two hotels and contributes $7,500 per year.

Hampshire has one hotel but does not contribute to the bureau's funding.