Monday, August 17, 2009
Councilman's Expense Cut Fails
A proposal was made at the last Council meeting by Finance Committee Chairman Lonnie Mixon-- to cancel the City's extra $35,000 yearly contribution to the Eastern Shore Chamber of Commerce for its "Blueprint for Tomorrow" program (on top of the City's $6000 annual dues). Mixon said the agreement--to give the Chamber $175,000 over 5 years-- was reached in 2006 back when the City "had a lot of money to spend"--but terms of the contract say it can be terminated "anytime." Mixon said the City's new Strategic Planning Committee had come up with "our own blueprint for tomorrow" --and the money would be better spent on its recommendations, instead (new computer system, vehicle replacement, utility refurbishments, etc.). Mixon: "We've imposed a hiring freeze, no overtime, cut travel and educational assistance for employees, and need to replenish our financial reserves. In good conscience, I cannot look my constituents in the eye and donate $35,000 to the Chamber of Commerce when we just imposed a 2% sales tax." Mixon's proposal died for the lack of a second. Darelyn Bender of the Chamber of Commerce then spoke of the "Blueprint's" purported benefits to the City; transportation study done ($75,000); possible bus "hubs" coming; also promoting park and rides; Technology Innovation Center study ($85,000); hired tourism director for Welcome Center (now open 7 days a week); attracting convention/conferences; et al. Councilman Ford is listed as a member in the Chamber's directory (Mike Ford Realty) as is Kingea's law firm. Mayor Kant is listed as an (ex-officio) member of its Board of Directors as well.