The City Council last week voted to double it’s budgeted contribution to the Chamber of Commerce in 2017 and will pitch in $6,000.
The decision came after Chamber Director David Branch made a formal request for more funding during his annual report to the Council. Branch asked for $10,000 for 2017; more than three times the amount budgeted both in ‘16 and ‘17.
Branch said the Chamber showed a loss of $6,000 last year, partly because Branch said he was caught off guard when the City provided the $3,000 in funding, which was $12,000 less than each of the previous three years.
“We still have some funds in the account,” Branch said, “but our treasurer’s worry is that 2-3 years down the road we’ll have to run back here asking for help.”
According to City Administrator Gary Jorn, The City markedly increased its contribution to the Chamber for a three-year period from 2013-14-15 in an effort to get the group solidly in “the black.” Jorn, who also serves on the Chamber board, said in addition there was a desire to take some financial burden off local retailers, who are consistently asked for dues and sponsorship help from the Chamber. In the years prior, the Council had pledged $2,500 annually.
Councilman Mike Dougherty made the motion, seconded by Don Ferguson, to increase meet Branch’s request roughly in the middle, and the rest of the council members voted to approve it.
Branch said the Chamber is expecting to promote three major events, in addition to Cobblestone, this year: The kickoff of the Bike Ride Across Nebraska in June; Lemonade Days in July; and a “Dine in the Dark” lunch Aug. 21 in conjunction with the total solar eclipse.