Budget Committee Deliberates Non-Profit Funding

Chamber Of Commerce To Receive Lion's Share Of Hotel Motel Tax

The Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce will receive the lion’s share of funding from the proceeds of the hotel/motel tax, thanks to action taken by the Jefferson County Budget Committee last week. In a split vote, the Committee approved a funding request from the Chamber of Commerce for $345,000 which was a significant increase from the current funding of $65,000. In the fiscal year 2017/18 budget which will come to a close on June 30, 2018 the Economic Development Alliance (EDA) was the big funding winner when the County Commission approved funding the organization at $280,000 but, after the Tennessee Supreme Court refused to hear a legal appeal from the EDA regarding an open records law suit filed by a group of local citizens, EDA declined to make a funding request from the County Commission for the upcoming budget for the fiscal year 2018/19.

Mike Dockery, Chair of the Jefferson County Industrial Development Board, addressed the Budget Committee as a citizen requesting some allocation of funding for the IDB for the upcoming fiscal year. County Commissioner David Seal also spoke as a citizen to request that the Budget Committee not allocate the Chamber of Commerce their funding request and offering other options that met the criteria of the hotel motel tax.

Director Helton of the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce was chastised by the Committee for failure to submit a line item budget with their request, rather offering an overview of programs. The Committee tabled discussion on the Chamber funding request until Helton had an opportunity to find and run off copies of paperwork that could suffice as a budget. Later in the meeting the Chamber request was taken up again, though the Committee noted that the budget that was presented was labeled 2017/2018. They were told by Helton to ignore the date, as the information was the same. Following much discussion, including an impassioned plea from Committee Member Huffaker to fully fund the Chamber request because EDA employees that deal with tourism and business recruitment will become Chamber employees and need operating funds, the Committee fielded several motions and amendments regarding the $345,000 funding request. In the end, one found favor with the majority of the Committee and was approved. The approved motion awarded the Chamber of Commerce $345,000 and split any additional funds accumulated from the Hotel / Motel tax to a three way split between the Chamber of Commerce, the Jefferson County Industrial Development Board and a reserve fund.

In other action, the Budget Committee approved $4,000 for Safe Space (necessary for grants), and $80,000 for Boys and Girl’s Club of Jefferson County which was $20,000 less their request. CARE, the new animal intake organization that will fill the shoes of the Jefferson County Humane Society, received $100,000 in funding which was also $20,000 short of their request. Fire Department funding was handled at a previous meeting. It was noted during the meeting that funding allocation are not set in stone until they are approved by the full body later this spring and could change should there be a budget shortfall.

Source: Chamber Of Commerce To Receive Lion's Share Of Hotel Motel Tax