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Proposed Chamber contract would save city $20K
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MONROE - A new contract between the city and the Monroe Chamber of Commerce for economic development services could help the city address a 2015 budget deficit to the tune of $20,000.

The City of Monroe Finance and Taxation Committee is considering recommending that the city's contract with the Chamber be reduced from $35,000 to $5,000. Of that $30,000 difference, $10,000 would be used for economic development by existing city staff and the remaining $20,000 would be applied toward the city's projected 2015 deficit of $175,000.

The finance committee is expected to recommend the 2015 proposed and 2016 projected general fund budgets to the council at its meeting Wednesday.

The city's contract with the Chamber will end Oct. 31, the day Chamber executive director Pam Christopher officially leaves her position. City Administrator Phil Rath brought the Chamber's contract situation to the Common Council Tuesday.

Committee member and council President Brooke Bauman said that in the proposed new contract with the Chamber, up to $5,000 would be set aside for future services including ribbon-cutting ceremonies, groundbreaking events and publicity.

Bauman said the contract situation with the Chamber provides an opportunity for the city to take on a bigger role in economic development.

"When this agreement was originally done in 2008, the city was a lot different," she said. "We didn't have the staff in place that we do now. And we're a lot stronger than we were; we didn't have a city administrator, and now we have an assistant, too."

Bauman said the recently approved organizational chart for the city already includes community development services being shifted to Martin Shanks, whose new job title is Assistant City Administrator/Community Development Director.

"With that new title, it really just made sense," Bauman said. "It wasn't that we were planning to reduce funding to the Chamber, it just happened to coincide with Pam's departure.

"We owe it to our taxpayers, and we owe it to Martin who's now in the position to do it," she said.

Bauman added that the city already pays Green County Development Corporation for services, and that "paying two entities for the same thing seems redundant."

Bauman said the $10,000 set aside for general operating would go towards expenses such as training and travel for Shanks, supplies and printing.

Rath said the city pays GCDC $2.65 per capita, which amounts to $28,670 annually.