Chamber’s city funding reworked

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By Nick Nunn staff writer

The Madison City Council looked at an amended contract between the city and the Madison-Morgan Chamber of Commerce, which, according to City Manager David Nunn, would put a “finer point” on the expectations that the city has of the Chamber of Commerce.

Nunn described the proposed changes to the contract as a “work in progress” that is and said that the city will be working with the Chamber on the alterations. He said that the process is “not going to be confrontational” and that the changes will not be a “wholesale restructuring” of the current agreement between the city and the Chamber of Commerce.

Chamber of Commerce President Bob Hughes said at the meeting that there is “a lot of synergy” between the city and the Chamber of Commerce.

The current agreement states that the city will grant the Chamber of Commerce “a sum of 45 percent of previous year’s hotel/motel revenues with a floor of $88,500” and that the Chamber of Commerce will use funds “solely for promoting tourism.”

The altered agreement, as it appeared on the red-line draft seen by the city council during their April 4 work session, shows a reworking of the sections titled “Expenditure solely for promoting tourism” and “Audit verification.”

The rewritten section on the expenditure of the grant funds states that “tourism involves traveling to experience and learn about the places, attraction, and activities in the City of Madison.”

It says further that the grant funds received by the Chamber must be expended within one year and that the funds will be used “solely for the benefit of City residents,” promoting leisure tourism, conventions and trade shows, and the various resources of Madison.

The changes also require the Chamber of Commerce to employ a full-time “’Tourism-Trained Professional,’” who will handle the advertising and marketing campaign, and that the employee both attend tourism trainings and be an “active member” in groups that will help to promote Madison as a tourism destination.

It also states that the Chamber will provide a cost allocation plan for this employee to the city.

The section of the contract related to audit verification added the requirements that the Chamber include monthly line-item expense reports to the city along with the existing audit reports that are currently due to the city each month.

Additionally, the Chamber will have to prepare a “detailed annual report” for the city at the end of each fiscal year.

The altered agreement also includes a provision stating that the Chamber will be subject to the Open Meetings Act and the Open Records Act because it receives more than one-third of its budget from hotel/motel tax.

During the meeting, Council Member Joe DiLetto gave his proposal for the creation of a business review advisory board, which would help potential businesses “maneuver” through the permitting process that is necessary for the creation of a business.

“It’s just a matter of feedback,” said DiLetto.

City Attorney Joe Reitman said that it would be ideal if the board could “work seamlessly” with the city’s existing business licensing protocols and indicated that he would look for similar boards in different municipalities in order to get an idea of how other governments have dealt with this issue.

Council Member Chris Hodges gave her support to the idea, saying that the plan would “be more about education than anything.”

Planning Director Monica Callahan said that a protocol for guiding business owners through the permitting process is “already in place” and that “80 percent of the people flow through the process pretty good.” She indicated that the city only deals with city permitting.

Hughes said that a “one-stop shop” for potential business owners would be beneficial because it would create a general “road map” for the process.

Reitman said that he would work with Callahan to start looking at options for moving forward with the proposal. alcohol used was suspected in the incident.

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