FARMINGTON — The Convention and Visitors Bureau struggled to regain a sense of direction in the wake of February’s embezzlement case, but it seems that the organization may be on its way back to recovery after a presentation during Tuesday’s City Council work session indicated progress in a number of areas. The presentation outlined operational changes and bureau funding sources. The review was also accompanied by a lengthy discussion on the organization’s future. “I wonder to myself whether we have an organization that has outlived its useful life in its current structure,” said Councilor Jason Sandel. “I believe it to be time to reimagine what the (Convention and Visitors Bureau) does and what it is.” Sandel proposed putting together a task force to determine the best option for tourism promotion to the city of Farmington. Council did not give consensus and the group will not be assembled. Tuesday’s presentation highlighted the progress the organization has made since being shaken by the embezzlement case. Discussion was marked both by recognition of progress made as well as lingering frustration over the embezzled funds. “I want to thank you for not jumping ship and continuing to maintain a high quality of professionalism at the office,” Councilor Mary Fischer said. “Is there any way to identify who benefited from (the embezzlement)? I guess what’s disappointed me is that in our community, people (who benefited) haven’t stepped up to the plate.
They’re not coming forward. I expected better.” The presentation featured a lengthy examination of bureau operations following February’s embezzlement case. “I’ve been a board member for 20 years, and I’ve never seen the board as involved as we are now,” said Keith Barbeau, Board Chairman. The board instituted a series of checks and balances on check writing, Barbeau said. Checks are no longer written in office. Instead, a request is reviewed by a special committee made up of four board members. If two give approval, the check is written by the accounting firm Solga and Jakino. The check must then be signed by two board members for final approval. Mayor Tommy Roberts expressed his confidence in the organization’s Board of Directors and staff. “It’s a new day really,” Roberts said. “I think this is a group of people that’s willing to take on the challenge.”