Board votes to appropriate $45,700 for Oakland Chamber of Commerce

The Oakland Board of Mayor and Aldermen has adopted a resolution to appropriate $45,700 for the Oakland Regional Chamber of Commerce for the current fiscal year.
Board members took the action during their July 17 regular monthly meeting on a motion offered by Alderman Kelly Rector and seconded by Alderman Karl Chambless. The motion was passed by three affirmative votes, with one abstention.
The resolution states that the Oakland Chamber is a nonprofit civic organization exempt from taxation under Section 501(c)(4) or (c)(6) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954.
It operates primarily to bring about “civic betterments and social improvements” through efforts to maintain and increase employment opportunities, community and economic development, social welfare and the “common good” of the town’s residents.
The resolution also states that the $45,700 will be appropriated in accordance with Section 6-54-111 of the Tennessee Code Annotated and the “standard procedures” devised by the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury.
It notes that the Chamber has sent Town Recorder Tammie Hightower a copy of an annual report of its “business affairs and transactions.” The report contains an annual audit, a description of the program that serves the town’s residents, a funding request and the proposed use of the town’s assistance.
The $45,700 will include:
(a) $7,000 for the town’s annual Chamber membership dues at the rate of $1 for each resident;
(b) $2,500 for the town to “sponsor” each of five annual events: Springfest, the Chamber Banquet, its spring and fall golf tournaments and the Oakland in October Festival;
(c) $350 for the Chamber Luncheon that features Mayor Chris Goodman’s State of the Town Address;
(d) $350 for the Chamber’s annual Business Appreciation/Shop Local Luncheon; and
(e) $25,500 for advertising, beautification of the town sign and trade shows.
During discussion shortly before the vote, Alderman Billy Ray Morris said he did not want to be a “stick in the mud.” But he requested that the board postpone its adoption of the resolution until the town’s employees and department directors are “taken care of financially.”
Goodman said he was “not sure exactly” what Morris meant by the phrase “taken care of.”
The alderman said Hightower told the board earlier during the meeting that it should not be spending any money until it knows “which way the funds are going,” and it has been “cleared” by the town’s financial auditing firm.
“I think the employees and department heads should come first,” he said, “before anything is taken out of anything.”
But Hightower recalled that, at the final reading of the Budget Ordinance on June 29, the board voted to take funds from the “Donations” line item to pay for the employees’ Christmas bonus.
“That was put into place and sent to the Comptroller,” she noted. “That already was being taken out of what you see on this resolution.”
As requested by the auditing firm, prior to disbursement of the funds, the Chamber will provide invoices and supporting documentation for appropriated donation purposes.
“So, it’s not like these funds are fixing to just be written in a check tomorrow,” Hightower said. “It’ll be like an invoice procedure, where you’ll have all that documentation to back it up.”
Chambless said the board was merely approving a “budget request” for line items. He noted that, if a future request for a particular Chamber activity would “place a strain” on some other item, the board can “deny” the request.