Chamber wants additional city funds

The Marion City Council approved adding an additional $3,000 to the Marion Chamber of Commerce budget at its meeting Monday.

After two failed motions, the council approved the third motion and directed David Mayfield, city administrator, to appropriate a total $10,000 toward the Chamber when figuring the city?s 2010 budget.

?I would like to appropriate the $7,000 now,? said Mayor Mary Olson, ?and then we can think on the additional funds.?

Councilor Bill Holdeman said he would like to see the Chamber get $7,000 and an additional $5,000. Both Olson?s and Holdeman?s motions died for a second.

Margo Yates, who serves as part-time director of the Chamber and Marion?s Recreation Commission was available to answer questions regarding the increase.

Mayfield was first to suggest $5,000 be appropriated to the Chamber for a total of $12,000.

Councilor Gene Winkler, who also is the Chamber of Commerce treasurer, said the organization has barely squeaked by for the past five years.

?Margo does a good job,? he said, ?and she hasn?t had a raise in four years.?

The Chamber?s situation has been getting worse too.

In December, Winkler said some members were asked to pay their Chamber dues early so that Yates could be paid her salary.

With some businesses pre-paying, the group keeps getting further and further behind, he said.

When considering other possible options, Yates said she would not entertain raising the membership dues.

?I will not accept any more money from Chamber members,? Yates said, adding times are tough enough for businesses.

Todd Heitschmidt, representing Marion Economic Development, Inc. and Doug Kjellin, City of Marion Economic Development, both asked to talk about the problem.

As part-time director of the recreation commission, which USD 408 oversees, and the Chamber, which receives support from the city, membership dues and fundraising events, Heitschmidt said nobody is accepting Yates as a full-time employee.

If MEDI were more further along, he said, it would consider options.

Kjellin said that as economic development director and proponent of helping retain and bring new businesses to the city, he says there is a quality of life issue.

?Margo (Yates) is key to all these things,? he said.

?We need to find a way to compensate Margo,? Councilor Steve Smith said.

Smith said he believes the Marion School Board should consider putting Yates on full-time with recreation commission.

?I know I am probably opening up a can of worms, but the city providing an additional $5,000 is a drop in the bucket (for what is needed).?

Smith said the district and council could consider how to re-work the whole recreation commission position.

Collett said he had nothing against Yates, adding that she spends a lot of time and hard work promoting Marion.

?I am opposed to the mill levy going up,? he said.

The remaining Marion City Council article will appear Wednesday, July 15 on the website.

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