Warrick County residents have a peek into the future with the Warrick County Commissioners creation of the Warrick County Tourism Commission.

The commissioners recently passed a first reading of an ordinance that will establish the Warrick County Tourism Commission. The commission will be created following the Warrick County Council's passing of an innkeeper's tax that will take effect in 2018. The tax funds are set to be used to encourage tourism in the county.

The ordinance states that the purpose of the Tourism Commission is "to promote, assist and encourage the development and growth of the convention, visitor, recreation and tourism industries in Warrick County."

The commission will be given the ability to accept and use gifts, grants, tax revenues and other contributions from any public or private source; to sue and be sued; to make rules necessary for the conduct of its business and the accomplishment of its purposes; and to receive and approve, alter, or reject requests and proposals for funding by qualified organizations.

The commission will also have the ability to enter into contracts and agreements including the hiring of legal counsel, financial accounting services, marketing and promotions services and/or other professional advisors as well as the ability to contract with the Warrick County Chamber of Commerce for the hiring of staff, including a part-time executive director of the commission.

The commission will be able to transfer money, after approval of a request or proposal from a qualified organization, from time to time from the inkeeper's tax fund, or from money transferred from that fund to the treasurer, to any Indiana not-for-profit corporation to promote and encourage conventions, visitors, recreation or tourism events in the county. The commission can also require financial or other reports from any party or entity that receives funds from the commission.

The Tourism Commission will be required to host an annual meeting for organization in order to elect a president, vice president, secretary and treasurer. The commission will also be required to provide quarterly reports to the Warrick County Commissioners.

The ordinance states that the commission will set aside a certain sum each year to be granted to not-for-profit organizations for the creation, development and or publication of brochures, pamphlets, graphic artwork, websites and/or other materials that help not-for-profit organizations promote their events and operations and encourage tourists to visit the county.

The ordinance set a limit of two years for the term of each of the nine commission members with a cap of four terms for each individual. However, in order to make sure there will be alternating years, for the first appointments to the commission five members will have two year terms while four members will only have a one year term.

The ordinance also established the number of members appointed from other government bodies. Four members will be appointed by the Warrick County Commissioners, three will be appointed by the Warrick County Council, the mayor of Boonville will appoint one member and the President of the Newburgh Town Council will appoint one member.

All appointments to the Tourism Commission will have the be submitted to the Warrick County Commissioners by Jan. 1 each year and are subject to approval by the commissioners.

"Commissioners shall take all efforts to appoint Commission members to ensure the membership will best serve the tourism interest of Warrick County," the ordinance reads.

In addition, the ordinance sets aside qualifications for members appointed to the commission. Those rules are as follows:

At least five members of the commission must be engaged in convention, visitor, recreation or tourism businesses or involved in promoting conventions, visitors, recreation or tourism events within Warrick County, including representatives of non-profits that regularly sponsor and promote events that are likely to generate tourism to Warrick County.

At least two members of the commission must be engaged in the business of renting or furnishing rooms, lodging or accommodations in Warrick County.

No more than one representative of the same business entity or commercial enterprise shall be on the commission at any time. This provision does not apply to non-profit and charitable organizations.

No more than five of the members of the commission may be affiliated with the same political party.

Each commission member must reside in Warrick County.

There will be no limits on the number of commission members who are residents of any particular township of Warrick County.

The ordinance gives the Warrick County Commissioners the ability to reject nominations based on the rules set aside in the ordinance. In the event that a nomination doesn't comply with the rules, the commissioners can choose to request a new nomination or appoint another alternative member themselves. The Warrick County Commissioners can also remove members from the Tourism Commission with a reason.

The ordinance also states that no members of the commission will be paid a salary, but may be reimbursed for necessary expenses incurred.

Warrick County Attorney Todd Glass told the commissioners that there may need to be amendments to the ordinance down the road, but issues may not be known until the commission begins its duties.

"This very likely is not a perfect inclusion of everything needed for the Tourism Commission, but it's very close," he said. "We can very certainly, after the commission starts meeting next year, probably identify fixes or improvements to the ordinance which the board can certainly do. If you believe it's a good start you may approve my recommendation."

The Warrick County Commissioners will consider the ordinance on second and third readings at their next regular meeting on Dec. 11 at 4 p.m.

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