Paradise Valley seeks formalization of oversight role at Experience Scottsdale

Experience Scottsdale President and CEO Rachel Sacco during the Oct. 23 annual meeting. (Independent Newsmedia/Terrance Thornton)

As Paradise Valley Town Council continues to dissect its inner-workings, the local governing board is looking to formalize its appointment process for one advisory post in particular: the Experience Scottsdale Board of Directors.

Under a 501(c)6 nonprofit umbrella, the private company known as Experience Scottsdale holds contracts with both the city of Scottsdale and Town of Paradise Valley to conduct marketing efforts on behalf of the municipalities.

For this current fiscal year, the Town of Paradise Valley is providing $1,311,919 in bed-tax remits, which is in tune to the municipality’s five-year agreement with the marketing entity, according to Experience Scottsdale Vice President of Community & Government Affairs Rachel Pearson.

In addition, Experience Scottsdale partners with the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community for its marketing needs.

It appears the town is looking to create a formal one-year appointment term for a town council representative who will continue to serve as a voting member on the Experience Scottsdale Board of Directors, according to a Thursday, Nov. 16 work session discussion at Town Hall, 6401 E. Lincoln Drive.

The change will come by way of an amendment to Section 2 of the existing town code, officials say.

Rachel Pearson

“Experience Scottsdale has a volunteer board of directors who represent a variety of segments from the tourism industry,” Ms. Pearson said in a Nov. 28 statement to the Independent.

“We provide a seat on the board for a member of the Paradise Valley Town Council. This appointment has historically been made annually by the mayor of Paradise Valley, or by a process of his/her choosing. The councilmember appointed sits on the board as a voting member.”

Ms. Pearson points out the municipal focus of memorializing its appointment process is in tune with her own group’s expansion of sitting members who attend regular meetings at Experience Scottsdale.

“This past fiscal year, our nominating committee and executive committee of the board also approved inviting the town manager to join the board as an ex-officio member,” she said. “This is the same for the city of Scottsdale — the Mayor appoints a Councilmember each year; and last year, the city manager also was invited to join the board as an ex-officio member.”

Ms. Pearson contends community voices are vital to the success of intergovernmental relations.

“Having community representation on the Experience Scottsdale Board of Directors provides an opportunity to keep our partners informed and involved in the organization’s strategic direction,” she said. “As members of our board, community representatives help to provide valuable input, advise Experience Scottsdale on current trends and potential implications of our programs, and can help educate other community leaders on the organization’s efforts.”

While Paradise Valley Town Council discussed the possibility of creating more council liaisons for advisory boards and commissions to the governing body only the pursuit of a formal term to the advisory role at Experience Scottsdale took hold.

“We help fund them significantly and maybe there is more of an oversight position with them compared to the other groups,” Paradise Valley Vice Mayor Jerry Bien-Willner said during the work session discussion. “But I don’t see any burning need to have any overhaul on the member agencies.”

A view of Experience Scottsdale advertisement in New York. (submitted photo)

One idea was to bring a new formal council liaison role to the Paradise Valley Board of Adjustment due to the weight of rulings bestowed by the volunteer board, who meet as needs arise.

“It’s an interesting idea to have a liaison to the Board of Adjustment, but I do have concerns about any liaison for any board that adjudicates,” said Vice Mayor Bien-Willner.

Paradise Valley Mayor Michael Collins says much of the ongoing governance discussions have all aspects of municipal government on the table.

“What are we trying to do? We are talking about the role of the mayor in the organization,” he explained to his colleagues. “If we are trying to extract the power of the person that is in this chair that is one conversation.”

While the appointment process for the various advisory boards to the council has largely been up to the sitting council, Mayor Collins points out he sees room for improvement.

“We have seen many different iterations of how this has worked and how it hasn’t worked,” he said regarding the appointment process of the various advisory boards to town council. “I think there is some room for improvement.”

The advisory boards to Paradise Valley Town Council are:

  • The Advisory Committee on Public Safety;
  • The Arts Advisory Committee;
  • The Board of Adjustment;
  • The Hillside Building Committee;
  • The Historical Advisory Committee;
  • The Mummy Mountain Preserve Trust;
  • The Personal Appeals board;
  • The Planning Commission;
  • The Public Safety Personnel Retirement Board.

Paradise Valley Councilman Mark Stanton, who serves as council liaison to Experience Scottsdale, says he likes the idea of emboldening his role and the future member of council to fill it in years to come.

“I think this is a good idea, but let’s not forget that they (Experience Scottsdale) go through their own process,” he said. “We should get some feedback from Rachel (Sacco) and what processes they may already have in place — let’s make sure we are not creating more issue or more problems than we need to.”

Paradise Valley Town Council expects to have draft ordinance language to create a one-year liaison term for appointed members to the Experience Scottsdale Board of Directors in the coming weeks.

Independent Newsmedia Arizona Managing Editor Terrance Thornton can be contacted at

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