An increasingly strained relationship between the city and the Baltimore Convention Bureau prompted the mayor yesterday to threaten cutting off $2.4 million in municipal funds, the bulk of the downtown convention center's $3 million budget.
Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke asked for a marketing plan detailing how the convention center will spend its money next year. If the plan is not satisfactory, the city could effectively stop funding the convention center on July 1.
In a letter sent yesterday to Henry A. Rosenberg Jr., chairman of the Baltimore Area Convention and Visitors Association Inc., Mr. Schmoke said that he was keeping the city's options open. Before canceling the contract, which is 13 years old, the city must first give 60 days notice.
Wayne Chappell, executive director of BACVA, called the notice "no big deal."
"There are some housekeeping things that need to be done in the contract, to bring it up to date," Mr. Chappell said.
William E. Carlson, an attorney who represents the city, said BACVA last submitted a budget a year ago. Schmoke administration insiders said the mayor wants the convention bureau to be more directly accountable to the city than it has been.
"Now it will be easier to assess how BACVA intends to spend money," Mr. Carlson said.
In recent weeks, the convention center has taken two hits that centered around money.
In the coming fiscal year, the Schmoke administration has proposed cutting $289,000 from the budget. And last week, Mr. Chappell, the city's first convention director, resigned after 17 years to take a job in Kansas City, Mo.
He said that he resigned partly because of the proposed funding cut.