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City officials take hard look at funding
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The city Finance Committee has approved $180,200 in annual funding for the Chamber of Commerce.

This was not the year to ask McMinnville officials for more money.

On Thursday night, Finance Committee members rejected 11 requests for increased funding when they met to review requests from nonprofit charitable and civic organizations for fiscal year 2019-20. The total allocation amount at this time is $397,000. 

Drawing the most discussion among committee members were two requests from the Chamber of Commerce – $124,900 for tourism marketing and $75,000 for a Tourism Development Board administration fee – for a total of $199,990. Last year, the city approved a total of $174,700 for marketing and TDB administration.

An itemized list of projected Chamber expenditures: $75,000 administration fee, ad content generation $47,500, digital advertising $36,900, print and digital ads $29,000, expos and training $2,500, relocation $6,000, and placemakers grant match $3,000.

Alderman Everett Brock said the city pursued a hotel tax and designated that revenue to the Tourism Development Board. 

“I understood that we were going to fund this from the hotel, motel tax and not continually from our general fund,” said Brock.

In the last year, TDB has received more than $70,000 from hotel tax revenue. That amount is expected to increase with the development of two new hotels in McMinnville. 

“That money goes into its own line item to go toward projects so that we could buy properties to market and develop,” said Chamber president Mandy Eller, who added that $65,000 of the $75,000 in administrative fees goes to pay Chamber staff. 

“I was under the same impression,” said Alderman Steve Harvey. “That’s what the hotel, motel tax was for.” 

The discussion exceeded 25 minutes and ended with committee members voicing a desire to keep the amounts given to nonprofits relatively the same as last year due to a proposed property tax increase.

“We are probably looking at a tax increase this year,” said Brock. “We are going to get creamed if we end up giving you however much it is and we hit people with a tax increase. That’s where we’re standing. That’s exactly our problem here. I don’t see this committee being real receptive on any of these things going up very much from last year.” 

Members did approve a new addition to the funding list. The Biz Foundry, a nonprofit organization establishing in downtown McMinnville, requested $5,000. 

All allocations were unanimously approved and will be included in the consolidated budget for fiscal year 2019-20. Board of Mayor and Aldermen approval is required. 

Approved by the city’s Finance Committee with any rejected increases noted in parenthesis:

Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency $3,000 approved (requested $4,221)

Chamber of Commerce $99,700 ($124,900)

Chamber of Commerce $75,000

Chamber of Commerce dues $5,500

Citizens for Progress $10,000 ($15,000)

Meals on Wheels $7,500 ($10,000)

Sister Cities $10,000 ($8,500)

Main Street McMinnville $40,000 ($43,000)

Families in Crisis $8,000 ($10,000)

Caring Hearts United $7,000 ($9,000)

Young Men United $4,500 ($5,000)

Books from Birth $8,500 ($10,000) 

Upper Cumberland Broadcast Council WCTE-TV $9,000 ($11,000)

Rescue Squad $5,942

Magness Library $58,000

UCD District Assessment $2,858

Warren County Emergency Food Bank $3,000

Warren County Senior Center $27,000

Kids of the Community $9,000

The Biz Foundry $5,000