Chamber finances much improved after Fourth of July

After cutting costs and taking on event sponsors, the chamber of commerce’s financial struggles have substantially decreased after putting on the Fourth of July celebration.

The chamber had requested an additional $25,000 from the borough in May to help fund the Fourth — money that the borough would reimburse to the organization for insurance and utilities on an as-needed basis. However, at a July 14 meeting, chamber officials and board members discussed not putting in for any reimbursement.

“We still need funding,” said Board President Bill Burr, “but we have done well enough to not need the specific things that we were very concerned about funding at that time.”

The borough assembly had approved the funding, but with conditions.

Outgoing Executive Director Brittani Robbins told the board that the chamber had $73,685 in its accounts last week, before payouts for royalty bonuses. Before the Fourth, its accounts had dropped below $10,000.

The chamber is doing about $40,000 better than it was at this time last year, Robbins said.

Major cost-cutting measures have improved its financial outlook, like decreases in personnel hours, getting businesses, groups and families to sponsor Fourth events, and a strong royalty fundraising raffle that sold 53,704 tickets. “That comes from Ander (Edens) and his family’s extremely hard work,” said Robbins.

Chamber board members pointed out that the Edens family sponsored new events, kept expenses down, and went above and beyond the usual duties of a royalty contestant and their team.

By turning down the reimbursement funds from the borough, the chamber hopes that the assembly will consider contributing money to the chamber’s general fund next year, where it could be used not just for insurance or utilities but for any chamber expenses.

Typically, the chamber submits an annual funding request to the borough for its general expenses. For the past fiscal year, the borough contributed $27,000.

The $25,000 in additional funding that the borough assembly approved for this year‘s Fourth, however, came with strings attached, stipulating that it could be used only for fireworks, insurance and utilities — not prize payouts or wages. And the assembly said the additional money would replace the borough’s usual general fund contribution for 2024.

Instead of giving the chamber the $27,000 it typically contributes to the organization’s general budget annually, that money went to the Economic Development Department, Mayor Patty Gilbert suggested at the May 23 assembly meeting.

“If we spend it now,” accepting the reimbursement for Fourth expenses, “we’re not getting anything next year,” said Robbins.

“I think it would be best if we can get away without using it,” board member Elizabeth Roundtree said of the $25,000 reimbursement.

Even if the chamber does not touch the additional money the assembly approved for Fourth of July expenses, the borough is not obligated to contribute anything to the chamber in next year’s budget. That would be decided as part of the budget process next spring.

After the chamber discussed its finances at the July 14 board meeting, chamber employee Luana Wellons announced her intention to resign. Since Wellons was being trained to replace Robbins as executive director, the board is advertising for a new executive director.


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