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The money side of things between City and the CVB

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In Tuesday evening’s contract discussion between the Guthrie City Council and Chamber of Commerce there were questions as to dollar amounts. Since that meeting, city officials have shared some of that information.

Guthrie City HallAfter a 35-minute discussion, the city council approved (4-1 vote) a contract with the Guthrie Convention and Visitor’s Bureau (CVB), a subsidiary body of the Guthrie Chamber of Commerce. CVB officials were hopeful for a 90 day extension and an independent workshop to further discussion about the contract and answer questions from both sides. Related story: City of Guthrie and Chamber of Commerce disagree on approved contract

The City of Guthrie collects from lodging entities as part as the Hotel and Motel Tax (4 percent). Each quarter, the city makes a payment to the CVB for two-thirds. The remaining one-third goes to the City’s Park Department.

At one point in the council meeting, Councilman Z Thomas asked Chamber President Mary Coffin, “I’m trying to understand how we (city council) have given you almost twice the money in recent years and you were telling us that you were unable to pay your bills?”

Coffin replied, “You’re not giving us twice as much.”

When comparing the three-quarters in 2013 and 2014, city documents show the CVB received an additional $6,277.84 in funding.

City to CVB

“How come you cant pay your bills? Is that our (city) problem?” Thomas asked.

Coffin replied, “Actually, yes it is your fault. Yes.”

Coffin alluded to two items that put the CVB behind in making payments.

She said none of the previous city managers from the past had elected to remove a five percentage administrative fee (although allowed by Ordinance 3034) and passed it along to the CVB, but says City Manager Sereniah Breland chose to deduct the five percent and caused the Chamber currently $7,695.99 ($2,737.70 in 2013 and $4,958.20 in 2014).

“We did not know it was going to be taken out,” Coffin said during the council discussion.

Breland told Guthrie News Page the five percent was talked about in a March 2013 council workshop and again in a June 2013 council retreat. She went on to say she was following the ordinance as it is written.

The second item, in December, Coffin says in previous years the City and Chamber partnered in providing a lift to make repairs to downtown buildings lights prior to the Territorial Christmas Celebrations, but says Breland refused to help with that cost stating it was a CVB expense. Breland contacted a local business and achieved a $3,000 donation toward the lift to help with the cost and leaving the Chamber with a balance of $5,525.63.

The Chamber board, who also overlooks the CVB, granted an interest fee loan for the CVB to help meet all of its contractual obligations.

“We (CVB) spend our money from January to December. We do not hold anything over. We know what our budget is and how much we need and we spend it. We don’t put it in a savings account for a rainy day we spend the money like we are supposed to and are accountable for it,” Coffin said.

Thomas quickly responded, “If you’re not paying your bills, you’re not spending the money the way your suppose too. That’s not the city council’s fault if the Chamber can’t pay its bills. This city will not pay the Chamber’s bills.”

Payments from the City of Guthrie to the CVB

2011 $72,026

2012 $105,635

2013 $131,107

2014 $100,068.29 (three-quarters reporting; estimated $36,000 for the fourth quarter for a yearly estimate of $136,068.29).

So what’s next for the CVB?

The current contract between the City and CVB is set to expire Sept. 30. The CVB board will now decide to either accept or deny the City’s contract. If denied, the CVB (at the Chamber of Commerce) would close down at 5 p.m. on Sept. 30 and reopen as the Chamber of Commerce only on Oct. 1.

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