Oversight Needed In CVB And Chamber Of Commerce Spending

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Hamilton County Commission adopted a resolution that requires that all taxpayer-supported agencies receiving 25 percent or more of their annual operating income to adhere to Hamilton County purchasing policies.  For the commissioners that voted to protect the public tax dollars, you get an A plus in elected representation. 

It is about time that the CVB and Chamber of Commerce had some degree of oversight in spending of public tax dollars.  For years, these organizations have taken $7 million and $1.2 million, respectfully, in annual income from the taxpayers, and with a high brow stated, “we are not subject to open records.” 

The purchasing policies of Hamilton County are determined by Tennessee Code Annotated and developed by the state government. The purpose of having purchasing or procurement policies is to ensure that taxpayer funds are spent in an appropriate business manner. 

In the old days, the standards for local government was to obtain three quotes on all purchases under $10,000, with latitude for purchases under a few thousand, and to advertise for bids on purchases over $10,000.   This is a very reasonable standard that good business practices demand.  I get many quotes for work at my home, because quotes can vary. 

Then, there are standards for hotel and dining costs in the form of policy.  All organizations I have worked for had reasonable minimums.  Never, has public tax dollars involved luxury hotels and fine dining.  

I was reading this morning that a few county commissioners and the nonprofits object to having minimum standards as prescribed by state law placed on the millions of taxpayers dollars gifted to supported agencies, such as the Convention and Visitors Bureau,  Chamber of Commerce, and the list goes on. 

There is no such thing as a free lunch, and free money derived or forced from taxpayers must have conditions.  This is the problem with the attitude that the state and local government procurement standards are too much for local nonprofits. 

If reasonable business standards are too cumbersome for local nonprofits spending millions in taxpayer dollar, then get your free money somewhere else. 

It is more than disturbing that the CVB and Chamber refuses to allow the public to view the spending records of their tax dollars.  

I cannot imagine $8.2 million gifted to CVB or $1.2 million gifted to the Chamber of Commerce without government procurement rules, or open records. 

April Eidson




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