Chamber financials $22K in the red

Council To Discuss Chamber Finances at Thursday Night’s Budget Workshop

BLYTHEWOOD – The Greater Blythewood Chamber of Commerce’s budget and other documents reveal the Chamber is in financial trouble and has been for a while. Those documents were obtained by The Voice on Tuesday.

Now in the red by $22,000, the 183-member organization is taking steps to dig its way out – moving to a less expensive location and taking out a line of credit for $20,000 as it adjusts to not receiving the lucrative financial support previously provided by the town government.

Executive Director Mike Switzer resigned his position two weeks ago, and Interim Director Phil Frye said office manager Kitty Kelly has submitted her resignation as well, effective July 1. Chairman of the Chamber’s Board, Matt Cunningham, said in an email to members that Switzer is leaving his post with the Chamber in order to dedicate more time to one of his business ventures.

Several Board members have confirmed to The Voice that the Board voted unanimously last week to give up their office in McNulty Plaza and are searching for less expensive office space in the town. According to records, the Chamber has been paying $23,500 annually for rent to Mayor J. Michael Ross and his business partner who own Blythewood Professionals.

During the current fiscal year, the chamber received approximately $44,000 from the Town’s general fund and accommodation tax fund as well as additional funding for any events organized by the chamber. Council also approved $14,000 in Hospitality Tax revenue for a Chamber fundraiser to be held next fall. According to the request, the Chamber expects a total net profit of $21,125.12.

Frye said the organization remains intact.

The changes during the last couple of weeks have come as the deadline approached for the Chamber to turn over its financials for Council’s review prior to Thursday’s budget workshop. Mayor Pro Tem Eddie Baughman said Council will discuss those financials during the workshop on Thursday, May 23. The third and final vote on the budget is set for the regular council meeting on Tuesday, May 28.

The financials were presented to Council members via email on Tuesday and include the Chamber’s budget for the current fiscal year ending June, 2019, a profit and loss detail and expense detail for the former Visitor Center from July – December, 2018.

The Voice obtained the documents through a Freedom of Information request and reviewed them with Certified Public Account Bob Massa, a former Town Council member and former member of the Chamber board.

While the Chamber had a total income of $88,587.13 (as of May 13) for fiscal year 2019, that amount was surpassed by total expenditures of $110,865.81, leaving a deficit of $22,278.68 for the year.

A Chamber source said the Chamber will not be requesting any funds from Council for this budget year but hopes to receive some funding from Council in the form of sponsorships for various Chamber events throughout the year.