by Alan McArthur
The Platte City Chamber of Commerce may not be getting $10,000 from the Platte City Board of Aldermen after an ordinance died on Tuesday.
The contentious topic had a split vote of 3-3 for a second reading of the ordinance. Mayor Frank Offutt then declined to offer a vote as a tie-breaker and the motion to approve the agreement died.
Discussion began with Marsha Clark, alderman, giving a report from a subcommittee formed to study the agreement with the chamber.
“We appreciate what (the chamber) has done,” said Clark. “But we have a lot of questions and concerns and I don't know if it should be the same amount.”
The city currently has an agreement with the chamber to provide services such as: relocation information for potential new residents, a welcome program for new residents, marketing Platte City, handling phone inquiries, assisting in economic development, and participating on the City Special Events Planning Committee.
The chamber is also required to provide a monthly report of the services provided by the chamber that benefits the residents.
For those services, the city provides $10,000 to help pay to keep a staffer at the office fulltime Monday through Friday for a year.
Clark said the subcommittee objected to the legislation presented at the meeting. She also asked if the chamber membership fee for the city could be included in the $10,000 amount.
Alderman Tony Paolillo said he was concerned the city wasn't getting $10,000 worth of service.
“I don't see where it goes other than to a person's salary,” said Paolillo. “It's going to be a tight budget this year; I don't want to take away from services if we don't have to.”
Aaron Jung said the city and chamber have made great strides developing a working relationship together.
“This is not the time to be divided with the chamber,” said Jung. “It will send a negative message to the community if we are not on the same page with one of our economic development arms.”
Debbie Kirkpatrick, alderman, said the chamber is an asset, but that she thinks the city's membership could be included in the $10,000.
Ron Stone, alderman, said the chamber has made great strides in improving.
“The chamber has made great strides,” said Stone. “Ten thousand dollars is a lot of money and there may be some improvements that could be made, but it would put a bad message out if we denied it.”
Andy Stanton, alderman, reiterated a point made by Randy Knox, chamber president.
“As Randy Knox stated, it is normal that cities don't give to their chamber,” said Stanton. “I agree $10,000 is a lot of money. Naming Platte County R-3 School District as business of the year (as the chamber did this year) is the most ridiculous thing I've heard. A business has to compete for money; it is not the same at all.”
Clark asked how many businesses are spoken to directly a year.
Karen Wagoner, chamber director, said they have 242 members and target 25 members a year to visit with directly.
Clark also asked about whether the chamber reaches every new business when they open.
Wagoner said they sometimes receive updates on new business licenses from the city, but do not receive them on a regular basis.
Amy Hubbard, city clerk, said the chamber cannot have a standing request for new business license information, and has to request it every month.
Stanton said that the question before the board is whether to adjust the amount in the agreement.
“Don't forget the county (economic development) will be in here soon asking for money too,” said Stanton.
“They are on the next agenda,” said Jason Metten, city administrator.
After further discussion, Jung made a motion for the second reading of the bill and Stone seconded the motion. Voting in favor of the motion were Jung, Stone, and Kirkpatrick. Voting against were Clark, Paolillo, and Stanton.
Offutt could break the tie by casting a vote, but declined to vote on the issue and the motion died.
Offutt later said that on a procedural vote, the mayor has the option of whether to vote but is not required to vote.
“I sensed there was more discussion that needs to be made about the contract,” said Offutt.
Offutt said the motion was also losing momentum after having a first vote of 6-0 and then going to 3-3. He said he plans on visiting with the individual members and also with the chamber about resolving the issue. Offutt said he was not sure if the issue would be ready for the June 9 docket.
According to the Platte City Chamber of Commerce website, Platte County R-3 Schools is listed as a platinum member. The website lists some silver members as the Platte County Health Department and the Platte City Post Office. The Platte City Parks and Recreation Department is listed as a business member. Under the not for profit members are the Platte City Civic Center, Platte County Convention and Visitor's Bureau, Northland Career Center, and Northland Regional Ambulance District.
Some of the individual members are Frank Offutt, Platte City mayor; Jason Metten, city administrator for Platte City; and Richard Sayles, police chief.
The website lists the fees for membership as: $600 for a platinum membership, $400 for the gold level, $200 for silver, $150 for businesses, and $75 for individuals or not for profit organizations.
The aldermen’s next meeting is on Tuesday, June 9 at 7 p.m.