The Booneville City Council last week approved expending $5,000 for membership dues for the Booneville Development Corporation/South Logan County Chamber of Commerce.
The council had, in October, approved membership dues of $500 per month, with the Booneville Water Department splitting the fee amount.
A services contract created from that vote expired at the end of 2019.
Councilman Robert Smith first moved to pay dues of $2,500 for the year.
That motion was amended by councilman Guy Robson to obligate the city to $5,000 for the year regardless of activity taken by the water department’s governing board and because the council cannot obligate water department funds.
The amendment to the motion was approved in a 4-2 vote with Smith and Joe Earp voting no.
The motion of paying $5,000 was then approved in another 4-2 vote with Smith and Earp again voting no.
The vote on the dues amount followed a presentation by Chamber president Aaron Brewer, which included a belief the water department would match dues paid by the city.
Brewer told the council they were seeking $6,000 from the city and expected that amount matched by the water department for a total of $12,000.
However, Booneville Mayor Jerry Wilkins, answering a question from councilman Steve Reid, said it was his understanding the water department would pay half of the city’s obligation.
The $12,000 request would have been $500 less than the city and water department had combined to pay for many years — no officials were certain how long the amount had been set — but would have been double the amount a full contract would have netted the Chamber had October’s agreement been continued.
“That was done before my time,” said Wilkins. “A long time ago.”
Brewer said the amount is needed “to help defray the cost that we have associated with the general fund and the management of the Chamber of Commerce.”
Brewer said as of the meeting date 31 Chamber memberships had been renewed and credited Executive Director Susan Bulger with acquiring five new members since the beginning of 2020.
“We hold coffee mixers each month,” said Brewer. “We did get the $3,000 from the city to be locked into fireworks for July the Fourth, thank you very much for that.
“But we really do need to have the money from you with the match from the water department to keep our budget online.”
Robson questioned why, if in documentation provided by the Chamber to the council, the largest dues membership package is for $5,000 why the request was for $6,000.
He also asked why the water department was maintaining a separate membership because they are part of the city.
“I don’t know why $6,000, it used to be $6,250, and it’s been that for years so I don’t know why,” said Brewer.
Wilkins also noted the Chamber is one of the beneficiaries of the city’s one-percent sales tax.
Four percent of the proceeds are given to the Chamber, which amounted to more than $28,000 in 2019, as well as the split in fireworks costs, and in some advertising purchases.
“Over a period of years it has grown to over $700,000,” Wilkins said of the tax collections.
As recently as 2015, the year the tax was last renewed, the Chamber’s take would have been $23,360. In 2014 it would have been $21,200.
In other matters the council approved creating a training officer position for the Booneville Fire Department, which will not add personnel, and will be paid at the rate of a Captain, or $50 per month.
The council also approved a rezoning recommendation from the planning commission which will shift from residential to commercial to a property in Edith Heights owned by Johnny Williams, which Williams, the city attorney, said will be used as a vacation rental.
The recommendation keeps the property a commercial property as long as the business is in operation with it reverting to a residental property otherwise.