By Nick Worth
The Holbrook City Council met with members of the Holbrook Chamber of Commerce in a work session following Tuesday’s council meeting in order to go over the memorandum of understanding, set a budget and to determine the role of Kathleen Smith.
City Manager Ray Alley told the group he felt Smith, who is currently both chamber director and city special events coordinator, should no longer be working in both those jobs.
“I think we’ve evolved,” Alley said. “We’ve outgrown that combined position.”
He said the chamber “is now accountable,” and that they have become well respected.
“We’re not broken,” Alley said. “I enjoy working with the chamber.”
Alley also said he felt the chamber has outgrown having its office at city hall.
“It is my ultimate goal to move Kathleen into community development director and recreation specialist,” said Alley.
Chamber President Yvonne Larson told the council that chamber members had talked over the issue.
“We think we can make it work with a 28-hour per week employee and a city employee for eight hours per week,” said Larson.
She said the chamber has evolved into doing events, which are getting name recognition for Holbrook. Larson also said the chamber wants to move its office back to the old courthouse.
“We want to do the Wild West Days,” said Larson. She added that because of the liability involved, the chamber felt the city was better prepared to present the annual Christmas Parade.
Larson then presented the council with the chamber’s proposed budget, which includes:
* The city would provide the chamber with $21,000 annually from lodger’s tax funds so that the chamber may employ a director at 28 hours per week, paying $14 per hour inclusive of taxes. Larson said that actual rate would be $12 per hour.
* The city would provide the chamber with an employee-on-loan for eight hours per week at no charge to the chamber.
* The city would give the chamber $15,000 annually for Wild West Days. The chamber would be in charge of Wild West Days with its events coordinator collaborating with the city’s employee-on-loan to work out the details of which entity (chamber or city or outside group) would be in charge of which aspects of the event, such as entertainment, vendors and kickoff dinner.
* The city would provide the chamber with $10,000 annually to fund the Summer Dance Program. The chamber would be in charge of the dance program, working with the city concerning the details.
* The city would provide the chamber with $1,000 annually to fund the Festival of Trees and the Christmas Festival, of which the chamber would be in charge. The city would be in charge of lighting the Old Courthouse and Gillespie Park, as well as the Christmas parade.
* The chamber would move back to its space in the old courthouse, with the employee-on-loan working eight hours weekly there.
Larson noted the total budget as proposed by the chamber is $47,000 annually.
Alley then told the council that he and City Finance Director Randy Sullivan had worked out a proposed budget that was fairly close to that proposed by the chamber.
He noted, though, that the original estimate of $190,000 in lodgers tax revenues may have been high and that it may be closer to $180,000.
Alley and Sullivan proposed a payment to the chamber of $40,000, of which $21,000 would go toward hiring a director, $10,000 to Wild West Days, $8,000 for the dance program, and $1,000 to the Christmas Festival and the Festival of Trees.
Alley also noted another $28,000 would go to the Historical Society and $10,000 has been budgeted for replacing the HVAC unit in the old courthouse.
His only sticking point was the employee-on-loan requested by the chamber.
“I don’t know who I can provide,” Alley said. “Setting an eight-hour day on a fixed schedule, I can’t do that.”
City Clerk Cher Reyes asked Larson what the chamber needed the eight-hour weekly employee for, and Larson replied the chamber is hoping for help in event planning, contacting vendors, membership renewals and other duties.
She said the chamber members felt it was important to have the part-time employee in order for the chamber and the city to continue to work closely together.
“Sharing an eight-hour per week employee really gives me heartburn,” Alley said. He and Sullivan said more money could be found to bring the city’s contribution to the chamber up to $42,500.
“Now is a good time to separate,” Alley said. He suggested giving the chamber $3,500 per month for a total of $42,500 and at the end of the year, anything left over from the lodgers tax would go into the lodgers tax fund.
“The chamber of commerce is a private enterprise,” said Councilman Wade Carlisle. “I want to give them a flat dollar figure.
“I don’t want to mix government and the chamber of commerce,” Carlisle continued. “I want to give a block of money–this is yours, do what you want with it.”
“We collect the lodgers tax, but once we collect it, it’s yours,” said Mayor Jeff Hill. “As long as the audit comes out OK, that is my only concern. I don’t want to tell you how you can spend it.”
“She came in with a really conservative budget,” Alley said of Larson. “We’re really close on the money.”
Chamber Vice President Steve Gallegos told the council the chamber doesn’t want to do just events.
“We want to help businesses,” Gallegos said. He said the chamber wants to train employees in how to promote Holbrook businesses.
Alley then addressed the issues of the money and the employee-on-loan.
“Forty-seven thousand dollars is not an issue,” Alley said. “I recommend we go with a block amount, but no sharing people.”
Hill then told the chamber members the city is contractually obligated to maintain the property at the old courthouse.
“That will not change,” he said.
Larson then asked if Smith could be an ex-officio member of the chamber board, to which Alley agreed.
The session ended with the council agreeing to commit to a $47,000 payment to the chamber. Sullivan told The Tribune-News that figure could possibly go higher.
“We’ll know more as we go through the budget process,” he said.
By Nick Worth