I feel like if they're going get public funds, their budget ought to be open to the public, "says Commissioner John Roberts. "That's just my opinion." He's referring to the city giving money to the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce. For the past few years, the city has given funds to the chamber. Last year they contributed 12,000 dollars.
City Manager for Marianna says on Monday, there was an indication from Mayor that the city will be reducing that contribution. Dean says, "That can be anywhere from 1,000 dollars to 10,000, I don't know."
"That's not a surprise," says Art Kimbrough. He's the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce President and CEO. He says he understands that all cities and communities in the state are looking to make cuts. He adds the Chamber is prepared for whatever the city decides to do. "The total amount they contribute represents 6 percent of our budget," explains Kimbrough. "Whether they contribute all of it or half it, the Chamber is going to continue function very strongly." He also says the city is welcome to check out the chamber's budget at any time. "We will make available our records to them, says Kimbrough, "but we aren't going to make them available to the public domain." He says the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce is a private entity and is not subject to the sunshine laws.
Commissioner Roberts says he understands the Chamber doesn't have to operate under that law but still questioned it at Wednesday's special meeting. "Legally I agree with their legal opinion they don't have to operate under the sunshine laws, but I feel like maybe what's legally right and what really's ought to be done are two different things."
Now the Marianna City Commission will hold their first budget workshop on August 13th. The dollar amount of the city's contribution to the chamber should be decided on then.