Daleville Chamber of Commerce executive director Kecia Ham presented a request for funding for the chamber to the water board on Tuesday, Nov. 19.
Ham brought a financial statement reflecting the income and expenditures of the chamber for October and for the year-to-date. These statements did not include payroll costs.
“Year to date we have brought in $17,942, the cost of operating expenses and events was $15,152, leaving us as of right now with a total of $2,570,” Ham said. “This is the first time we were in the black in many years. We obviously are not where we need to be for payroll.”
According to Water Board Chairman Charles Tongret, the water board has consistently given money to the chamber since 2010.
“I know we all would like to help out where we can, but since 2010 the water board has given the Chamber of Commerce $110,435 to operate. That is quite a bit of money there,” Tongret said. “For the $15,000 we gave last year you have a profit of $2,500 and that still does not leave enough money to pay someone to run it for next year.”
Ham explained that because chambers are non-profit they need donations.
“Chambers of Commerce are non-profit organizations. Most are funded by donations from the cities that they represent,” Ham said.
“Right but the city is not funding you,” Tongret said. “The city is not doing anything.”
“We are asking the water board,” Ham said.
“Yes and that is a little unusual in itself,” Tongret said. “But again historically the city hasn't had any money to support you. It has been the water department at least back to 2010.”
According to Ham approximately 45 percent of the businesses in Daleville are members of the chamber. The number of members has increased from 29 to 88 in the past year.
“We have tripled membership in the last year but they have to see a difference. They have seen a difference, it is just a process to grow,” Ham said. “We have seen a huge difference just in the last year.”
According to Ham, membership dues are billed in January and the amount varies based on the number of employees in a business. Dues range from $125 up to $400 for businesses. Churches, non-profit organizations, clubs and individual memberships are lower.
She expects to bring in approximately $5,950 in the first quarter of 2020 for membership dues.
“We have lost a couple of members because of businesses that have closed, but we also have gained few new businesses,” Ham said. “There are about 10 individual members and roughly 15 non-profit organizations. Most of the rest are at the $125 level.”
Tongret said he agrees with what board member Jo Reese said last year about not giving the money as a payroll expense, just as a contribution.
“If we are going to do anything just do a flat out donation. Not a payroll expense,” Tongret said. “I agree with (Reese) that is not what we are here to do.”
“It looks like it averages about $12,000 a year, given 2010 until now,” Reese said.
Board member Scoot Moore asked, “What else do you have if we don’t?”
“We don’t, we shut down,” Ham said.
“There is no need for $15,000,” Reese said. “If you have $10,400 just with the low end coming in (from dues) and you are adding members, I don't see even a donation being approved, from my stand point, of $15,000.”
Ham said that the money brought in from dues largely goes to cover operating expenses and events.
“If you look at the back number—we have had over $15,000 just in operating expenses, then events and things of that nature. That is even having businesses sponsor those events to take some of the cost off of us.”
Board member Josh Robertson pointed out that Ham’s salary is not included in the financial statement.
“It is actually a $30,000 endeavor that only made the $17,723 for the year,” Robertson said. “Kecia is not on this piece of paper so adding that amount, the memberships aren’t offsetting that cost. So, we are still in the boat of it is really twice what is on the piece of paper.”
Tongret reiterated his preference to give a donation instead of payroll.
“The chamber does not incur any kind of cost for having her do this,” Tongret said. “That is why I said it shouldn’t be a payroll expense. Just a monetary amount to donate and if it flies, it flies, if it doesn't, it doesn't. What is the monetary amount we want to give?”
After more discussion, a motion was made by Moore and seconded by Reese to make a donation and not a salary. All were in favor.
The board discussed the donation amount for several minutes and then Reese made a motion to table the amount until the December meeting. With all board members in agreement, the amount of the donation was tabled to be decided at the December meeting.
In other business, the board approved the agenda, the minutes from September and October, the bill list and reduction of water bills for several residents that have followed the proper procedures after a water leak raised their bill. Also, the board approved the Fiscal Year 2020 final budget in a 3-2 vote with Water Board Chairman Charles Tongret and board member Scott Moore voting against. The budget included a 3 percent raise for employees, two trucks, a light bar and radio that were added to the Fiscal Year 2020 budget as amendments in the meeting on Sept. 17.
The next meeting of the Water Board is scheduled for Dec. 17 at 4:30 p.m. but may be moved due to scheduling conflicts.