Marianna- City commissioners have been considering a move to drop funding for the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce. The issue arose as commissioners worked to assemble a budget for the upcoming year. Marianna commissioners had been setting aside $12,000 for the chamber for over a decade. But, some members felt it was time to stop the donation.
City officials told us, the recommendation to cut the chamber's funding was strictly a financial decision. "The indications are, as we've seen in the meetings, [commissioners] are going to be reducing that budget. Now, what that reduction will be, I have no idea. It could be to zero, it could be leave it the same. I just don't know at this point in time" said City Manager, Jim Dean.
But others told us they thought the proposal was made for personal reasons. "Commissioner Roberts, and I think their Attorney, Frank Bondurant, have made it a point to use their budget as a weapon to get us to side with them on an issue that we're not going to take sides on." said Chamber of Commerce President, Art Kimbrough.
Kimbrough said the issue stemmed from an ongoing court battle between Marianna and Florida Public Utilities. Both entities are members of the chamber
"For a variety of reasons the city feels like the chamber may not have sided with it in the court of public opinion, when in fact, the chamber's taken no position what so ever in the court case."
Dean told us the city was checking into the chamber's financial records."One of our commissioners has requested a detailed budget from last year and the present year from the chamber as well as the benefits package for the executive director' Dean said.
In response to the requests, Kimbrough told us, "Our books are open to them. They can come down here and look at our books anytime they want to. They have a seat on our board of directors."