‘Lack of trust’ caused Chamber funds action

Dear editor,

I would like to thank The Reporter for the article last week explaining some of the past interaction between the city council and the Chamber of Commerce.

Thank you to Mayor Larry Jones for setting the record straight. Many have assumed the Chamber was no longer interested in the city or the people. The Chamber has always been, and continues to be, interested in the people and businesses of Rockdale.

For the past three years, council member Toby Johnson, has requested detailed accounts from the Chamber for each of the community events which were financed by the tourism money.

The Chamber president always provided post-event information to the council for each event on a contractually required report.

Monthly financials for the tourism account were sent to the city. Johnson continued to call for more and more details.

Last fall, the Chamber Executive Board met with the city manager several times to review and discuss the 2013 contract. which was basically identical to prior contracts with the modification of increasing the event insurance.

The board was told the Chamber should be prepared for questions when the contract was voted on in November. Debra Jackson, Chamber chair, invited council members to a meeting with the Chamber Executive Board and the city manager to discuss any concerns or issues with the Chamber contract.

At this Oct. 23, workshop, Jackson felt all of the concerns had been answered. Mayor Jones suggested they meet the next week to accept the contract so that the Chamber would be assured of the funding and hire a president for the coming year.

Johnson replied they have too many meetings. She said the council should wait and vote on the contract in November, so it was postponed.

The next day, Jackson was informed that Johnson was convincing other council members not to be deterred and would not agree to the Chamber contract as proposed.

She had other plans for how to appropriate the money and was considering various arrangements, such as asking other local organizations to manage the funds, but at the very least, the 2013 Chamber contract would not be approved “as is”.

These plans or considerations were never brought up in the contract workshop nor brought directly to the Chamber board.

If the Chamber was so willing to work on concerns of the council, why wouldn’t the council reciprocate by communicating their suggestions with the Chamber? The Chamber board realized there was a lack of trust of the Chamber from at least a few of the council members.

Having no money secured to hire a Chamber president, to work on future community events, Chamber directors were very weary and did not feel the city would approve the contract and unanimously decided the best action would be to not contract with the city for the Tourism money.

Chamber directors have received calls and e-mails that they were causing trouble for the events bringing Rockdale more popularity. They don’t deserve this. They didn’t decide on a whim to hand the money and responsibility back.

It was handed over graciously because of the lack of trust from Council members.


Margo Gilless

1908 Murray Ave.


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2013-02-28 digital edition

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