Pima hesitates on funding hike for the Chamber of Commerce

Graham County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Vance Bryce, right, makes the case before the Pima Town Council for increased funding for the chamber from the Town of Pima. - David Bell Photo/Gila Valley Central

PIMA — The Graham County Chamber of Commerce’s effort to alter its funding structure was met with some resistance Tuesday.

On Tuesday, the Pima Town Council questioned the size of the increase the Chamber is seeking.

“My biggest concern is that we’re going from $350 a year to $20,000. I’m not sure our budget can handle that jump,” said Council Member Deborah Barr.

Mayor C.B. Fletcher questioned why the chamber is looking at population to determine funding levels, rather than each community’s sales tax revenues to determine fair shares. Thatcher Councilman Ryan Rapier made a similar inquiry when the Chamber presented before the Thatcher Town Council last month.

Chamber executive Director Vance Bryce said he would gather the sales tax data from each community and make that information available to all.

The Pima Town Council will conduct its first work session on the 2021-22 budget next week, and, if the sales tax data is available, said it plans to address the Chamber’s request at that time.

The Chamber is proposing increasing Thatcher’s contribution from 4 percent to 20 percent of the Chamber’s budget, Pima’s contribution from 0.1 percent to 10 percent, Graham County’s from 3 percent to 5 percent and decreasing Safford’s contribution from 64 percent to 38 percent. Funding from memberships would remain flat.

Bryce explained that while Safford’s percentage would decrease, the actual dollar contribution would remain the same.

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.

The Chamber has one more presentation remaining, when it goes before the Graham County Board of Supervisors on March 15.