REEDLEY – After the latest city council meeting, the Greater Reedley Chamber of Commerce will receive an additional $25,000 from the city in fiscal year 2023-24 for the services it provides for the community.
After postponing a decision on the increase during budget hearings in June, the Reedley City Council approved the request to amend the city’s allocation to the chamber from $50,000 to $75,000 at its meeting July 25 in a 3-1 vote, with Councilmember Mary Fast voting no and Mayor Anita Betancourt absent.
“For me anyways, it’s more palatable to see something that’s on paper, and so it’s just better to see that, to have it outlined,” mayor pro tempore Matthew Tuttle said. “I know a lot of stuff, especially in a small town like Reedley, … (is by) word of mouth … but sometimes, especially when we’re talking a lot of public money, it’s good to put it down in writing.”
The increase was tabled at the council meeting June 13, where Reedley Community Development Director Rodney Horton explained that city staff felt it was necessary because the costs for services provided by the chamber have steadily risen over the years. At that time, council asked staff to create a more detailed contract with the chamber before approving the increase, citing concerns over future accountability and clear service expectations.
In the updated professional services agreement, the chamber is expected to host local events like Good Morning Reedley “that bring businesses and city leadership and staff together;” put on community events including, at a minimum, the Reedley Fiesta, Streetfaire and Christmas in the Park; and provide a quarterly written report to the city outlining the chamber’s work in fulfilling agreement requirements.
Fast said that despite the updates, she was “still struggling” with approval of the allocation increase and would prefer to also have an annual financial report from the chamber with a profit and loss statement and a balance sheet.
“Years ago we had a chamber that folded, and I really wasn’t aware of that ahead of time, and I’d just like to keep our finger on where we’re at financially just to make sure you guys are going forward still,” Fast said.
Chamber CEO Erik Valencia said he would take the suggestion of additional reports to the chamber board but added that “at this time we are probably the strongest we’ve ever been.”
“Just a reminder that this contract is for services and not just a donation that you’re throwing towards the chamber, so what you’re paying for is for services,” Valencia said.
Other services the chamber provides the city with include helping recruit new businesses to Reedley “with an emphasis on companies that provide new jobs and/or significant sales tax base to the community,” creating a welcome packet for new businesses and reaching out to current businesses “to identify any areas of assistance” that is needed, according to the agreement.
In June, the council also directed city staff to provide a more detailed explanation for the increase request. The staff report presented July 25 showed that the original agreement appropriation of $50,000, which was passed in 2012, would be valued at $70,485 today using the Consumer Price Index, which is a measure of the average change over time in prices paid by consumers.
Additionally, the report stated that “the Chamber’s role with the City has expanded … without a corresponding increase in compensation.”
Since the initial agreement between the city and the chamber in 2012, the chamber now also helps the city with coordinating Economic Development Corporation and Small Business Association incentives with Reedley businesses.
City council will review the chamber’s allocation amount each year as part of the annual budget appropriation process.