A recent photo of some Boundary Country Regional Chamber of Commerce members and executive director Kendra Begg.

Chamber requests 2018 fee for service

The request was heavily debated by council, amidst chamber controversy in recent months.

The Boundary Country Regional Chamber of Commerce was back in council chambers on Monday night to present the quarterly report and request their 2018 Fee for Service agreement.

Chamber president Cathy Korolek and executive director Kendra Begg attended the meeting In her report to council, Korolek noted that since the turmoil in the spring regarding the chamber and the debate surrounding the group’s fee for service agreement, chamber membership has doubled, with $8,000 invested in Grand Forks, numerous events held and more events, such as Movies in the Park, already lined up for 2018.

Not included in the report was the group’s quarterly financial statements, as is typically included for quarterly reports by organizations receiving fee for service requests.

Both Couns. Julia Butler and Bev Tripp requested to see the group’s financial statements, while Tripp alleged that she has received zero communication from the chamber since Begg took the job in the spring.

In response to questions from council, Begg explained that the board had not met recently: after taking the summer off, two board meetings in September and October were cancelled for lack of quorum after two separate fatal highway accidents, two weeks apart, prevented members from attending.

Because of that, Begg said, the quarterly financial report and 2018 budget were ready but not yet approved by the board, something slated to happen later this week. Because they had not been approved, they have not yet been provided to council.

Two motions were presented for council approval: to accept their presentation for information, and to refer the fee for service request to the 2018 budgeting process.

Butler and Tripp voted against both receiving the report and against sending it to the budgeting process, citing concerns about the chamber’s transparency and best use of city funds.

“Somehow the chamber has put this proposal together for council without a board meeting,” Butler said, citing other clauses in the chamber’s fee for service which she said she did not feel were being upheld, like the chamber’s Facebook presence.

“I feel our money could be better invested in an organization that meets regularly and does not have trouble with quorum and following procedures,” Butler continued.

Tripp reiterated some concerns with accountability and lack of communication.

“I am struggling with this and where they are currently at and I am not necessarily seeing the accountability issues we need in place to go forward with funding,” Tripp said. “So far, since the big thing that happened over the summer, basically there has been nothing to give me any personal confidence where they are now at.”

Coun. Chris Hammett rebutted that statement, noting that Tripp is an associate member and not a business owner.

“I know Kendra has been out there with the businesses and that is the role of the chamber. What business do you have that she would communicate with her, other than associate member?,” she asked.

Other councillors spoke in support of the chamber and their ongoing work, including Coun. Neil Krog who said that as a business owner he is confident in the communication he receives from the chamber.

“I don’t have an issue. I think they serve the business community extremely well, they are working closely with the Downtown Business Association,” Coun. Christine Thompson said. “I have no issue with supporting funding for $15,000. With bookkeeper having changed and no report available…at this point in time they are only requesting and it will be referred to our budget process.”

Krog also said that he expected to receive financial reports by the time the budget process began and therefore had no issue with sending the request forward.

Council refers all fee for service request to the budget proces.

Council vote in favour of receiving the report and forwarding the 2018 fee for service request for $15,000 to the budgeting process; Tripp and Butler voted against both motions.

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