Chamber gets funding boost from Pima, 75 percent less than requested

Pima Town Council members Sherrill Teeter and Lucas Hoopes discuss the Graham County Chamber of Commerce's request for greater funding from the town. Hoopes' proposal of $1,250 per quarter, about 75 percent less than what the chamber was seeking, was passed unanimously. - David Bell Photo/Gila Valley Central

PIMA — The Pima Town Council voted unanimously to increase the town’s contribution to the Graham County Chamber of Commerce. However, that increase is significantly less than what the chamber was seeking.

The council voted to contribute $1,250 to the chamber each quarter in fiscal year 2021-22. That’s up from the current contribution of $324 but far less than the $20,000 annually the chamber was seeking.

The chamber had requested larger financial contributions from Pima, Thatcher and Graham County. The increased funding would be used for daily operation of the Chamber, freeing up the money raised from bed taxes on hotel stays to be used for tourism attraction and marketing.

“My question, for our citizens, is what can you do for Pima? We have no hotels; Cluff (Ponds) isn’t even our jurisdiction, it’s actually county, and that’s not even there anymore because it’s still drained; we have Taylor Freeze, El Mesquite, Juanita’s and a couple little stores. So what can the chamber do for Pima?” said Council Member Sherrill Teeter.

Town Manager Sean Lewis proposed funding $2,500 to the chamber quarterly — half what the chamber was seeking — with quarterly updates from the chamber to the town on what is being done to increase benefits to the town and its businesses from the chamber.

But Council Member Lucas Hoopes suggested cutting Lewis’ proposed funding in half, while still keeping the quarterly updates.

Graham County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Vance Bryce addresses the Pima Town Council on Tuesday night. – David Bell Photo/Gila Valley Central

“We’re going to have to work with Pima on exactly what they want with that amount of money and what value we can provide,” said Vance Bryce, chamber executive director. “I’m excited to prove to them what the chamber can do, that we’re bringing Pima in, and that we’re bringing these businesses into the wider Gila Valley business community.”

The chamber proposed a similar increase to the Graham County Board of Supervisors on Monday, and is awaiting word from Thatcher on the increased funding request.