Chuck Johnston is more interested in what the Grain Valley Chamber of Commerce has accomplished in its recent past than what is in its future goals.

Chuck Johnston is more interested in what the Grain Valley Chamber of Commerce has accomplished in its recent past than what is in its future goals. 

During Monday night’s Grain Valley Board of Aldermen meeting, Johnston, Ward 2 alderman, and two other Grain Valley aldermen voiced their concerns on the first reading of an agreement between the city and its Chamber of Commerce.

If passed on second reading, the one-year agreement would take effect Sunday, but there is not a meeting planned before then. The city would compensate the chamber $10,000 for its scope of services, which would be paid in installments of $5,000 in the second and fourth quarters.

According to the contract, the chamber would provide the following services:

Promote the city’s Web site as Grain Valley’s source for economic development and ensure that information on the chamber’s Web site is updated and accurate; Develop and maintain an inventory of sites available for development or provide a link on the chamber’s Web site to the city’s site inventory; Develop a series of articles highlighting existing business in Grain Valley for publication in local papers; Work with the Small Business and Technology Development Center to develop a series of programs for existing and potential businesses, marketing the programs to existing chamber members and potential entrepreneurs through multiple media; Provide information regarding services available under the business retention and expansion program and business incubator, once implemented; Provide information regarding potential sources of funding available under the city’s incentive utilization guidelines; and  Provide the city with 10 seats at the Pillar of the Community awards banquet.

Johnston, as well as Dale Arnold and Terry Beebe, both Ward 1 aldermen, voted against the first reading of the bill. Mayor David Halphin voted “yes” to break the tie, 4-3.

City Administrator Gary Bradley said that prior to his joining the city staff in December 2005, no scope of services was defined through the city’s contract with the chamber. After 2006, the city said it would decrease its payment for services by $5,000 each year until the contract no longer existed, Bradley said. 

“They’re making good progress in developing a strategic plan that will guide the chamber’s operations and its services to members,” Bradley said. “They are providing programs often after their regular luncheons that people can go to.”

Johnston requested that the chamber present a copy of its annual budget to aldermen. Arnold suggested that aldermen, city staff and chamber staff conduct a workshop on the matter before the bill’s second reading. No chamber staff members were present Monday. 

“I don’t see why we should continue subsidizing them,” Johnston said. “They’re just providing the normal services of the chamber. In my personal opinion, I just don’t see them providing $10,000 worth of services.”

Johnston asked Bradley if he thought the city was receiving $10,000 worth of services with the chamber.

“I think that’s a tough question for a lot of communities. Is there $10,000 worth of value in keeping the chamber alive and functioning? I think it would be a very bad mark for the city to have our chamber fold,” Bradley said. “Does our $10,000 keep them from running in a deficit? Yes. Could we do business spotlights and things like that for $10,000 cheaper? Sure.”

No money for Grain Valley

In other business, Public Works Director Jeff Fisher provided board members with an update on the city’s plans with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan funds. During a Mid-America Regional Council Surface Transportation Program meeting Monday in downtown Kansas City, Grain Valley learned that it had received no money from a total of $27 million available for state system projects.

“We thought we were well prepared going into this meeting,” Fisher said. “It doesn’t appear we had the support that we thought we did going into it.”

The city will continue to pursue stimulus funds for water, sewer and stormwater projects, Fisher said.

The Federal Highway Administration sub-allocates Surface Transportation funds to MARC, which is the region’s metropolitan planning organization. For more information about Grain Valley’s proposed use of funds had it received any, check out Wednesday’s Progress Edition section in The Examiner.