REEDLEY – The city council approved Reedley’s budget this week and will revisit a proposed increase in the compensation agreement with the chamber of commerce at a later date.
Leaving plenty of time before the deadline of June 30, the Reedley City Council adopted the fiscal year 2023-24 budget of $50.8 million at their meeting Tuesday, June 13. Councilmembers decided to wait to vote on a request that would amend the city’s allocation to the Greater Reedley Chamber of Commerce from $50,000 to $75,000, citing a desire to see a more detailed contract between the city and the chamber before signing off.
“For me this would be much more palatable, if we could adjust that contract to be a little more clear with expectations, with duties,” mayor pro tempore Matthew Tuttle said Tuesday night. “It’s such a big increase. As it is right now, I can’t vote for it, but if it can be brought back with more direction on a contract with expectations, then I could much more definitely consider it.”
Within the city budget, the expenditure to the chamber of commerce is housed under the planning division of the community development department and comes from the city’s general fund. Rodney Horton, the community development director, said to city council that he requested the $25,000 increase for the upcoming fiscal year because the costs for the services the chamber provides have been steadily rising.
“It’s not inexpensive to put on Fiesta or to put on the other events that the chamber does for the city,” Horton said. “We do not have an in-house economic development specialist or analyst like some of the other cities may have, so we rely upon our chamber for those kinds of services.”
Speaking during public comment, former chamber of commerce chair Jose Plascencia said the events the chamber helps put on would be much more expensive if the city were to contract out to a third party. Not only that, the city’s contribution to the chamber is only about 25% of the chamber’s revenue.
Plascencia advocated for the chamber, saying that in years past Reedley has not been seen as a business-friendly location; however, through work the city and chamber have done over the last decade, that perception has changed.
“We couldn’t have done that without your support of the Greater Reedley Chamber of Commerce, your contribution, your investment, not only in the chamber, but in us business owners,” Plascencia said.
Tuttle and other council members expressed concerns that if the chamber of commerce were to experience staff turnover, the new employees may not provide the same services and support to the city as they do now without a contract. Tuttle also said he would hate for the city to be “in the position with our hands left out, expecting something that we were getting in the past” and be denied.
The community development department cited continued work with the chamber as an economic development goal in the budget proposal and says that the chamber “plays a large part in recruiting new businesses, with an emphasis on companies that provide new jobs and/or enhancements to the City’s sales tax base.”
“My number one goal was to continue the economic development front and make sure that we still have that connection and we utilize those services through the chamber,” Horton said at the council meeting. “I wanted to make sure that was not impacted even though the cost to put on these essential events in our community continues to go up.”
Horton said the funding in the professional services agreement the city has with the chamber of commerce has not changed in the last five to eight years, and the department will look at the original costs of the events and services the chamber provided for the city compared to what they are now to better demonstrate the need for the increase.
“In that request moving forward, the council, based on the feedback that we had received at the meeting, just wanted to make sure that the agreement was tightened and included specified deliverables,” Horton said.
Following direction from the council, the community development department will work on “tightening up” the request for funding, Horton said. The department will discuss internally when to bring the revised request to the council.