The sometimes contentious relationship between members of the Inyo County Board of Supervisors and the local Chambers of Commerce came to a head again at the board meeting on Tuesday.
A year ago, the supervisors decided to change the way that the county funds the chambers. Rather then a lump sum of money each year, the chambers, and any other group for that matter, now submit a proposal for a project or event. The proposal gets rated on a points system, and the projects that rate well can be awarded a grant.
With the state budget a complete disaster in January, the county put this community project sponsorship grant program on hold at that time. Tawni Thomson with the Bishop Chamber explained that the chamber had put in a proposal for the Blake Jones Derby in December, but with the money frozen up, the organization decided to move ahead with the Blake Jones without the county chipping in $10,000 of the total $23,000 that she says the derby costs.
Now that the county budget outlook has stabilized, the chambers came to the supervisors meeting to see if they could be reimbursed for some of the costs to put on these events. Right off the bat, Supervisor Richard Cervantes said hed support the reimbursement.
Supervisor Beverly Brown wasnt swayed so easily. She scoffed at the $10,000 request for an event that is staffed primarily with volunteers, saying to Thomson, it astounds me that you cant do one thing without funding from Inyo County. Brown said that she doesnt believe that Inyo County should be the funding source for every chamber in the county and that year after year, the chambers are asking for more and more and more.
Thomson explained that money for the Blake Jones is spent on advertising and fish to plant, along with other expenses, and that while it looks like a money maker for the chamber, we hope we break even. The funding for the chamber comes from the members, the City of Bishop, from events, and from the county, Thomson explained.
The argument must have worked as the supervisors unanimously approved the request along with other projects recommended under this community project sponsorship grant program.