Riverton City Council terminates Tourism Asset Development agreement with Riverton Chamber after financial review

    (Riverton, WY) – The Riverton City Council has terminated its agreement with the Riverton Chamber of Commerce as the city’s designated promotion committee that receives and distributes local Tourism Asset Development funds.

    The decision came after Riverton conducted a financial review of the local TAD program, which distributes the lodging tax revenues allocated to the city by the Wind River Visitors Council.

    Financial review

    The WRVC allocates 25 percent of Fremont County’s lodging tax revenues to the TAD program for use by local communities, City Administrator Kyle Butterfield explained during a council meeting Tuesday, and Riverton has traditionally tasked the Riverton Chamber of Commerce with receiving and distributing the city’s portion of the funds.


    In May of 2023, the council approved an updated agreement with the Chamber to “establish and clarify the responsibilities associated” with managing the TAD program, Butterfield said.

    That agreement says the city can audit the TAD funds “at any time determined necessary,” he noted, and last month, the city took advantage of that option, calling for a financial review of the TAD program by city staff for calendar year 2023 and January and February 2024.

    The review found that three checks were written from the TAD account to the Chamber during that timeframe, Butterfield said, including a $6,250 check in January 2023, a $5,000 check in September 2023, and an $1,800 check in February 2024.

    The first check went to support the Chamber website and social media management, Butterfield said, and the second went towards operating expenses and salaries at the local visitor center.


    The financial review committee was unable to determine what the final check was used for, Butterfield said.

    The Chamber’s new Treasurer, Victor Allen, later clarified that the $1,800 transfer was an “overdraft check.”

    He also acknowledged that the transfer should not have been made without prior approval from the city, since the new agreement for use of TAD funds says the Chamber won’t use the money “for Chamber operations, personnel costs, or purposes, unless prior permission is received from the Riverton City Council and the approved use is consistent with TAD rules, guidelines, and regulations.”


    “Obviously there’s discrepancy in following through with the (agreement),” Allen said. “That was wrong.”

    WRVC ‘concerned’

    WRVC Executive Director Helen Wilson said her group was “concerned” by the results of the financial review.

    “The numbers … don’t add up,” she said. “There’s a lot of questions. Things like checks that can’t be read, (and) the documents are so different from one another that the numbers are just challenging to match up. …


    “We’re not saying that there’s an issue, we just don’t have the numbers in front of us that match up, and they need to.”

    Based on the discussion, Councilmember Lindsey Cox said “we can obviously all see that there’s issues with the Chamber.”

    “I’d make a motion to terminate the (agreement) with the Chamber and designate a new promotion committee regarding the TAD program so that they can focus on what they were established to do,” she said.

    Councilmember Karla Borders seconded the motion.

    “I’m in favor of bringing the TAD money back to the council,” Borders said. “The Chamber has been fraught with problems, (and) I’d really like to see them focus on what they can do to be successful.”

    Councilmember Dean Peranteaux wondered whether the city should also ask for a “more comprehensive audit” of the TAD program, but Butterfield didn’t think that was necessary.

    “The Chamber has been very cooperative through this (process, and) the review committee was able to at least track the funds that were held separately,” Butterfield said. “I don’t think there’s any need to go any further.”

    Councilmember Kristy Salisbury asked what would happen to the pending TAD grant applications that were recently submitted to the Chamber, and Butterfield said those could be transferred to the city for consideration by a new promotion committee that could be set up “pretty quickly.”

    He added that the city would also “welcome” a TAD grant application from the Chamber.

    “It is appropriate for them to utilize TAD funds, and they should be welcome to apply like any other entity,” he said. “We would give the Chamber the opportunity to submit (an application).”

    ‘Not a court of law’

    Several residents criticized the Chamber’s handling of the TAD funds during Tuesday’s meeting, with some suggesting more severe consequences should be handed down as a result.

    Responding to those comments, Councilmember Mike Bailey pointed out that the city council is “not a court of law.”

    “We only can take action on the things that we have control over,” he said. “And that’s what we’re doing (by) bringing that (TAD fund) back under the city.”

    Councilmember Kyle Larson agreed that “we don’t have the magic wand for the Chamber of Commerce, but we do have the magic wand on returning our TAD money and administering it ourselves until we can find a better method.”

    “We may not be able to address a specific concern with another board,” Peranteaux said, echoing the statements from Larson and Bailey, “but there are things that can be done.”

    Mayor Tim Hancock encouraged those who are concerned about Chamber operations to join the organization and try to “make a difference from within.”

    “If you have concerns about things, and you’re wanting to make a difference, go and talk to the people and get involved,” he said.

    For more information, call the City of Riverton at 856-2227.


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