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Board to review chamber invoice

by Marc Hayot | May 2, 2021 at 4:00 a.m.
City hall

City directors will decide on Tuesday whether to approve Resolution 15-21 concerning amending the 2021 budget to pay the Siloam Springs Chamber of Commerce for their fourth quarter 2020 economic development services.

Chamber President Arthur Hulbert appeared at the city board meeting on April 20 and asked the board to direct city staff to submit a budget amendment for a $7,500 payment for the fourth quarter.

Hulbert said the chamber submitted an invoice for fourth quarter 2020 to the city in February after the city closed its books for fiscal year 2020 in January.

The city entered into its sixth agreement with the chamber in 2020, according to a staff report prepared by City Administrator Phillip Patterson on April 28. The agreement requires the chamber to submit quarterly reports, summarizing the economic development services provided along with a quarterly invoice for $7,500, the report states.

Patterson said the chamber had an employee leave at the beginning of the fourth quarter. During that time, the city was "frantically" trying to close out the 2020 year and get contracts ready for 2021. Patterson said the chamber overlooked the need to submit the fourth quarter invoice.

"It never dawned on me that we didn't get it," he said.

On the matter of why the invoice was submitted in February, Hulbert said the chamber now has a different person handling invoices and there was nothing in the contract to provide guidance when invoices were due.

The email sent by the chamber's accountant did not immediately catch the city's attention. Patterson said he thinks the email went to an individual in the city that normally doesn't receive those invoices and thought it was a phishing email.

Hulbert contacted Patterson on Saturday, April 10, and asked the city adminstrator to look at the invoice, Patterson said. On Monday, April 12, Patterson began researching the matter, he said.

Since the city closed its books in January and the budget does not have any extra money for the 2021 contract with the chamber, Patterson said he suggested Hulbert ask the board to amend the 2021 budget to include the fourth quarter payment that should have been made in 2020.

City Directors had mixed emotions concerning Hulbert's request at the April 20 meeting. Directors David Allen, Reid Carroll, Mindy Hunt, Lesa Rissler and Carol Smiley wanted to have the matter resolved and have the resolution brought before the board.

"I do appreciate how the chamber, Main Street and the city work together with school systems," Carroll said. "I feel like we have a unity that has taken time and I appreciate the unity that we show as a community and I'd like to see that continued."

Carroll also said the resolution won't make unity continue, but thinks it will help.

Directors Brad Burns and Marla Sappington were not in favor of the resolution. Burns said it sounded like the ball was dropped on the chamber's end.

"I just, I struggle funding the chamber, additional funding with the chamber at any level and so I want to make that simply clear and I'll be a 'No.'"

Sappington's comments concerning the issue were difficult to understand due to an audio problem. The city director was contacted via text on Thursday about the issue.

Sappington said this should have been handled last year and the blame should not have been on the employee that left. The city director also said once the budget was closed it should not carry over to the next year.

The city board will also discuss and vote on the following items:

Consent agenda

• Regular meeting minutes for the April 20 city board meeting.

• Dedication of utility easements for 415 East University Street.

• Dedication of utility easements for 3550 Highway 412 East.

• Resolution 13-21 concerning a significant development permit for 22000 Highway 16.

• Resolution 14-21 regarding a preliminary plat development permit for the 600 to 700 block of east Lake Francis Drive.

• Resolution 16-21 concerning streets and alley way closures for the Rainwater wedding and the summer concert series.

Contracts and approvals

• Approving a contract with Kansas City Southern (KCS) to bore underneath the KCS railroad tracks to put in a redundant raw water pipeline from the intake at the Illinois River to the water treatment plant.

• Approving a budget amendment in the amount of $715,262 for the Hico Street Sidepath project and a contract with 81 Construction Company in the amount of $708,181.

Ordinances

• Placing Ordinance 21-06 regarding the annexation of 25.57 acres at 23006 Lawlis Road on its third reading.

• Placing Ordinance 21-07 concerning the rezoning of the 800 to 900 block of South Washington Street from C-2 (Roadway Commercial) and R-2 (Residential Medium) to R-4 (Residential Multi-Family) on its first reading.

Staff Reports

• March financials.

• Administrator's report.

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