Urbana has opted to pursue the tourism business on its own.
Four months after formally severing municipal ties to the county Convention & Visitors Bureau, Urbana officials have put the finishing touches on their own plan to promote the community to visitors.
Maybe it will be an improvement over the old multicommunity approach, and Mayor Laurel Prussing's judgment will be vindicated. Maybe it won't.
But it appears that the initial explanation given for Prussing's decision wasn't the whole story.
The face-off between Prussing and the Convention & Visitors Bureau began in mid-2011 when Prussing vetoed a $72,000 appropriation the city council set aside as Urbana's share of an intergovernmental effort to promote tourism.
Urbana had joined with Savoy, Champaign, Rantoul, the University of Illinois and Champaign County in a united front to draw visitors.
But Prussing vetoed the appropriation and attributed her decision to a tough choice mandated by the need to provide additional resources to the police department. That explanation obviously bought Prussing considerable support because public safety is a top priority and law enforcement issues in southeast Urbana were a widely publicized problem.
But as the discussion continued, Prussing provided a broader explanation for her decision to pull Urbana out.
She said the city wasn't getting enough out of the bureau to justify what it was putting into it, and that she had long been unhappy with the arrangement.
Soon plans for Urbana to do its own self-promotion were on the drawing board. On Monday, the council put the finishing touches on a multidimensional marketing plan that will use a variety of techniques including brochures, social media, business district promotion, the Krannert Center and the city's website to attract visitors.
Forming an alliance with the Urbana Business Association, the city's Community Development Services department will do for Urbana what the convention bureau previously did. The plan calls for a slight increase to the city's payroll that will cost roughly $37,000. (By the way, that figure is more than half of the amount Prussing said she needed for the police department.)
The mayor is well within her rights as the city's chief executive to make decisions like this, and it's our hope that Urbana taxpayers do get a bigger bang for their buck. But history has shown that too many independent governmental units going their own way hasn't been in the best interests of the community at large, creating inefficiency and working at cross-purposes. It would be a shame if that were to happen here.