City board preliminarily approves funding for new holiday festival

Posted at 4:41 PM, Jun 04, 2018

A Corpus Christi city board has given preliminary approval for a holiday festival along the Bayfront.   

The vote was made by the Corpus Christi B Corporation, more commonly known as a Type B Board.

The job of that newly created board, approved by voters, is to administer money from city sales taxes.  That money is to be used for economic development, affordable housing, and construction and maintenance of streets and roads.

As KRIS 6 News reported on Friday, the board has given preliminary approval to use hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to fund a holiday kickoff plan presented by the Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The CVB envisions a winter wonderland on the Bayfront, with the centerpiece being $250,000 dollar Christmas tree. 

CEO Pauluette Kluge brought the "Holidays on the Bay" idea before the Type B Board. She said the CVB has gotten nearly half a million dollars in pledged donations for the festival, from corporations like HEB and Citgo as well as other anonymous donors. Kluge asked the board to match that funding. The total million dollars would be used to run the festival for five years, Kluge said. 

"This is all about economic development, because what we want to do is have hundreds of thousands of people come in to Corpus Christi in December, and spend money here," Kluge said. 

The Type B Board took a preliminary vote on May 21st, and approved funding the festival 5 to 1. 

Board member Bart Braselton, who voted in favor of funding the festival, sees it as an investment that will bring more money into the city. He believes the festival is a trigger for economic development.

"December is one of our slowest months in the hotel business, and this could help fill up the hotels. A very slight change in the percentage of hotel occupancy could have a very profound economic impact," Braselton said.

However, Mayor Joe McComb thinks half a million dollars may be better spent in other places. McComb questions whether this is an item the Type B Board should be voting on.

"Although I think everybody enjoys a good Christmas Festival, I think we need to focus on what the funds were initially voted on, and that is for economic development and streets," McComb said. 

McComb also has some concerns about the process the new Type B Board used to preliminarily approve allocating funds.

"I think this might be the first request for funds under the newly created Type B Board, and I’m not sure if they’ve even got a process or procedure or protocol in place to accept proposals for funding considerations," he said.

Braselton tells KRIS 6 News that the board adopted the same protocols that the Type A Board uses, since both boards consist of many of the same members. 

The proposal will go before the board for a second vote, and if it passes, it will move to the City Council for final approval. Several Council Members tell KRIS 6 they want some questions answered before they take a stance on funding the festival. 

"I think something like this could be good for the city. However there are some other items that I think we can use that money for," Ben Molina, District 2, said. 

Rudy Garza says he needs to see the entire proposal before he will take a position, and Paulette Guajardo vows to get input from taxpayers.

"It sounds like a wonderful way to bring an amenity to our community during the holiday season. However, there is much more to consider and customarily, I like to see the merit and sustainability of a program such as this prior to making a decision," Guajardo. 

However, Greg Smith, District 4, tells KRIS 6 News he does not think this idea would be approved by the City Council.

On Friday, we reported that the centerpiece of the festival, the Christmas tree, would cost $480,000 dollars, based on what Kluge told board members during the May 21st public meeting. Today Kluge tells us she misspoke during the meeting. She says the tree would cost $250,000 dollars, and a corporation has pledged to pay for it.