The Hilliard Convention and Visitors Bureau will close its Cemetery Road office at the end of the month, but financial records show questions remain on whether the organization fulfilled its function.

The Hilliard Convention and Visitors Bureau will close its Cemetery Road office at the end of the month, but financial records show questions remain on whether the organization fulfilled its function.

The CVB held its final meeting on April 15 and allocated most of its remaining funds to several organizations.

According to the minutes, $148,500 was allocated to the following organizations: Northwest Franklin County Historical Society and Museum ($5,000); Hilliard Bradley High School's Distracted Driving Campaign ($2,000); Serving Our Neighbors ($10,000); Hilliard Civic Association's Hilliardfest ($5,000); Franklin County Agricultural Society ($38,000, plus an additional $10,000 for a study on the Quarter Horse Congress); Washington Township Parks and Recreation Department ($5,000); Hilliard Area Chamber of Commerce's "Taste of Hilliard" event ($5,000); Hilliard City School District's Community Environmental Day ($1,000); Hilliard Recreation and Parks Department ($7,500); Hilliard Horseshoe Tournament ($1,500); Hilliard/Ray Patch Family YMCA's Healthy Kids Day ($1,500); Patches of Light ($2,000); Hilliard Community Foundation ($25,000).

Destination Hilliard, the organization city council established to receive the city's lodging tax revenue in place of the CVB, was denied its request for funds.

"The city had put in a request of numerous items adding up to $75,000, requesting either the full amount or even piecemeal for certain projects, and they said no on all fronts," council President Brett Sciotto said.

According to the minutes of the CVB meeting, $25,000 was requested for First Responders Park, $20,000 for a marketing study, $25,000 to Destination Hilliard and $5,000 for the Destination Hilliard website.

"All requests were denied for lack of motion to disburse funds," the minutes state.

"The monies were appropriated to the (CVB) for the purposes of promoting our community," Sciotto said, "and the fact that they had $200,000-plus in cash and couldn't find their way to appropriate some of it to the organization that will pick up the baton to promote our city I think is very unfortunate."

Although it wasn't indicated in the minutes, sources said an estimated $20,000 in severance pay was allocated to CVB executive director Brenda Kazmierczak. A remaining $10,000 was held over to pay bills.

Whatever remains from that, "they're just going to write that check to the Franklin County Fairgrounds, because they've supported the fair for many years," said Franklin County Agricultural Society secretary Tim Shade, who has been on the CVB board since 2006. "It won't be a lot of money."

The CVB members would not provide past financial records to ThisWeek as requested under the Freedom of Information Act, but did say they had filed audit reports with the Ohio Auditor's Office.

CVB audits for the years 1997-2007 show the organization carried over balances every year and spent less than it earned in most of those years. At the start of 1997, the CVB's fund balance/net assets were $34,115; by year's end, it was $53,216, which increased to $77,537 at the end of 1998; $107,287 in 1999; $125,188 in 2000; $130, 659 in 2001; fell to $123,775 in 2002; went back up to $130,615 in 2003; fell to $126,292 in 2004; rose to $144,751 in 2005; to $172,686 in 2006 and $208,133 in 2007.

Hilliard's Convention and Visitors Bureau was established in 1991 as a governmental agency for the city of Hilliard. According to the audit reports, "Its purpose is to promote conventions and tourism in the community, to promote service organizations and businesses for the residents and visitors ..."

However, in some years (1997, 1998, 2004), the auditor's report shows the Hilliard CVB did not spend any money on advertising. Totaling line items such as Advertising, Special Projects, Event Sponsorship, Web Site, Printing, Grants and Contributions, the CVB spent only 25 percent of its total expenditures on what could be called promotion during 1997-2007. Yet during that same period, 38 percent was spent on salaries, which was by far the largest line item most years. Bills accounted for most of the other expenses, according to the auditor's report.

With the exception of 1997, in which "certain immaterial instances of noncompliance" were noted, "no instances of noncompliance or other matters that are required to reported under Government Auditing Standards" were noted by the independent auditors who prepared the reports for the state auditor's office.