The York County Council might remove its current liaison to the Hospitality Tax Advisory Committee next week, citing a conflict of interest with her agency.
If a proposed amendment to the county ordinance establishing the committee is approved Monday by the council’s finance committee, current liaison Mikki Rentschler, finance director of the Rock Hill/York County Convention & Visitors Bureau, will be replaced on the committee by County Treasurer Beth Latham.
The County Council created the hospitality tax committee to study how to spend the county’s hospitality tax money.
Some council members had questioned Rentschler’s role on the committee because about half of the money collected through the hospitality tax on restaurants in the unincorporated portions of York County has been given to the CVB. Councilman Joe Cox, chairman of the finance committee, has called Rentschler’s role an “unethical” conflict of interest.
Cox said Wednesday he believes Latham could more objectively advise the committee on how to distribute hospitality funds between the bureau and other recipients.
“Beth Latham would be a wonderful employee for that role because she doesn’t have any opinions on whether the CVB gets 50 percent, 25 percent or 75 percent,” Cox said. “She doesn’t have a dog in that fight.”
Taking on the job with the hospitality committee wouldn’t be a problem, Latham said, because she already plays a similar role with the county’s Accommodations Tax Advisory Committee.
“I work with the chairman of the committee to schedule the meetings, take the minutes during the meeting, and make sure they get whatever items they want onto the agenda,” Latham said.
The amendment also would redefine some of the duties of the liaison, whose official capacity with the committee had been a point of some confusion, council members said.
New language in the ordinance would give the liaison the duty of “conveying information between the committee and County Council (and) providing information about the Hospitality Tax Account balance and expenditures.” It also would remove the job of “coordinating projects with the committee’s partners” from the liaison’s responsibilities.
While Latham would be reporting back to the County Council in her new role, she said she will work collaboratively with the chairman and other members of the hospitality tax committee.
“Whatever I send to them, the committee will get first,” she said.
If the County Council ultimately approves the change, it might not have much impact on the committee meetings themselves. Even with the change in her title, Cox said, Rentschler still could attend meetings, where she doesn’t vote but can offer advice on tourism-related initiatives.
“This is not a direct reflection on (Rentschler) as a valued employee. She’s just not right in that position,” Cox said. “She can continue to be a wealth of information for that committee.”
Efforts to reach Rentschler and CVB executive director Lisa Meadows were unsuccessful Wednesday.