Area chambers’ funding in peril | SierraSun.com

Area chambers’ funding in peril

Britt Retherford

Threats to cut $80,000 that would go to promote tourism in a tourist-dependent Nevada County received an outcry by area business members and Joint Chambers of Commerce (JCOC) representatives at a Nevada County Board of Supervisors public hearing for the proposed county budget last week.If approved, it could mean that the chambers of commerce in cities and towns of Truckee, Grass Valley, Nevada City, Penn Valley, Rough and Ready, and the county’s unincorporated areas, may have to split $15,000 of county money. The joint chambers organization runs the visitor information centers and uses various other outreach tools to bring tourism to the county.”I find this appalling that you would be cutting the promotional arm of this county,” said JCOC Chair Mary Ann Mueller.County Chief Fiscal Officer Joe Christoffel explained that the cut in funds is attributed in large part to the expansion of Grass Valley city limits, which took more than $200,000 away from the county. The county primarily uses the money from the Transient Occupancy Tax, an eight precinct tax that targets tourists by charging a tax on hotel rooms, to give to the JCOC. The Best Western in the Brunswick Basin, which is now in Grass Valley’s boundaries, brought the county $138,000 alone, Christoffel said.This money will now go to the city of Grass Valley and there is no guarantee that the Grass Valley Chamber of Commerce will receive enough to fulfill its needs. “Grass Valley picks up another $100,000 and they can play hard ball if they want and keep it in their court,” said Supervisor Peter Van Zant.This could also impact other cities and unincorporated areas. District 5 Supervisor Barbara Green said she was concerned about the impact this would have on Truckee because many tourists who come to the Eastern part of the county visit unincorporated areas like Donner Pass.”In the winter 16,000 to 18,000 people go to Donner Pass each day,” Green said. She would like to see Truckee JCOC still receive its share of county money for tourist promotion of these areas and the entire county as well. Friar Tuck’s Restaurant and Bar owner and Nevada City Chamber of Commerce board member, Greg Cook, said that the county’s investment in tourism “is our insurance for the future.”Chambers of commerce are responsible for promoting tourism within their own cities, but representatives that spoke agree that they all find themselves promoting the entire county, which is why the county should be contributing more, not cutting back their funds.The Board of Supervisors agreed to go the table with the Joint Chambers of Commerce and the city of Grass Valley to negotiate a plan that could satisfy the JCOC in promoting tourist needs of the county. County Executive Officer Rick Haffey said that money could possibly be made available from the county’s contingency funds. A meeting is expected to happen sometime this week, possibly Wednesday.