Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Chamber eyes stronger relationship with city

Contract for services could mean additional funding

Express Staff Writer

The Hailey Chamber of Commerce could nearly double its annual budget if a proposed contract for services with Hailey is approved by the City Council.

At a council meeting on Monday, Nov. 26, chamber President Michael Beck presented city officials with a proposal requesting $61,109 in local option tax funds to help promote business in the town. The money would be added to the chamber's current fiscal year budget of $70,000, 90 percent of which comes from membership fees, chamber Executive Director Jim Spinelli said.

Hailey originally budgeted $10,000 for the chamber this year, later adding another $30,000 from excess funds in October. By comparison, Ketchum contributes approximately $400,000 to the Sun Valley-Ketchum Chamber & Visitors Bureau's $1.4 million annual budget.

While Hailey's council members expressed enthusiastic support for the proposal, City Attorney Ned Williamson said the agreement should come in the form of a contract for services in order to allow the city and its residents to know exactly how the public funds are being spent.

"The chamber and city have worked on an intermittent and informal basis over the past several years," Beck said during his presentation to the council. "The purpose of this is to formalize the relationship and make it regular and recurring."

Williamson said a contract would give the city a means to evaluate the effectiveness of the chamber's use of the funds.

"The proof will be in the pudding," Spinelli said during an interview the following day. "Hopefully there will be a revenue cycle, in which the LOT fund expenditures will, in turn, result in more LOT revenue."

Spinelli said the proposal detailed where the additional funds from the city would be used in the chamber's budget, including $20,000 for advertising and business promotion, $15,000 for special events, and $12,000 for downtown beautification. He added that those expenditures wouldn't be restricted to chamber members.

"As well, we really want to work with the city and keep them in the loop on how the funds are being used," Spinelli said.

Spinelli said the chamber will be working with Williamson to draw up the contract and that he hopes to have it back before the council for a decision on Dec. 10 in order to have it implemented by the beginning of the new year.

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