RIO VISTA — Council members took to task the city’s Chamber of Commerce before finally agreeing Tuesday to give the organization a $2,500 subsidy – a fraction of the $10,000 the chamber had requested.
The subsidy came with a caveat; the chamber must match the funds and give monthly reports on the organization’s status.
Four council members agreed to the reduced subsidy. Councilman Jim McCracken did not vote.
Questions about the chamber’s budget and its perceived lack of fundraising, save for the Bass Festival, were raised during the meeting.
“I just don’t see where the chamber has done anything but rely on the Bass Festival to bring in their monies,” McCracken said.
He said the money should be spent on the city, which, he said, “has enough problems” such as a police station located “in a trailer” and a City Hall that leaks.
“I don’t feel the city should subsidize private enterprise,” he said. “I don’t think that’s our business.”
The chamber’s executive director, Karen James Smith, called her organization the city’s biggest cheerleader.
“It would be a shame for our city not to have a chamber,” she said.
Chamber officials indicated during the meeting that without the city’s help, the chamber would be in danger of closing its doors.
A former chamber president had some harsh words for the organization and said that no one would miss them if the doors closed.
“I don’t want to slam the chamber (but) if they went away tomorrow no one would notice,” said Brent Cohn. “They’ve got to earn they’re own way. I think they need to get organized and they need to get there fast. And then the city will need them. They don’t need them right now.”
Councilman Dave Hampton said he had a number of problems with the request, including wanting to know if the current chamber budget was achievable. He also questioned whether the requested money was available.
In its request to the City Council, chamber representatives were asking for a one-year subsidy of $10,000 to be pulled from the 2011-12 transient occupancy tax. It was learned during the council meeting that a separate fund doesn’t exist for the transient tax and it’s rolled into the general fund and already budgeted for the current fiscal year. As a result, money to the chamber will come out of the general fund.
The chamber is currently in the process of making cuts including looking to lower its rent, cut the full-time executive director to part-time and reduce operational expenses by one-third.
Reach Susan Winlow at 427-6955 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/swinlowdr.