Shelby County Supervisors approve economic development merger


October 18th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The Shelby County Supervisors Thursday, approved by a 2-to-1 vote, a motion to support a merge of Shelby County DevelopSource and Shelby County Chamber of Commerce. The same motion had been approved by the Harlan City Council Tuesday evening. The Supervisors also approved a motion to request an accounting of the hotel/motel tax revenues/disbursements handled since its inception.

The Supervisors Chamber in the basement of the Shelby County Courthouse was filled with members of the Shelby County Chamber, Tourism Committee and Hotel/Motel Tax Task Force. Supervisor James Burmeister said he would have rather seen the two boards come up with a plan before the Board of Supervisors voted on the motion. Chamber Board Member Marty Burchett spoke to the board about the two groups joining forces. She said “We have no structure laid out. This is just conversations going on more so from DevelopSource then the Chamber. We have miles to go before this will ever happen.”

Randy Ouren, former President of the Chamber’s Board of Directors, says he had received an e-mail, as had several other members of the Chamber and City Council, from Mayor Gettys and read it to the Supervisors. Part of the e-mail was about the Hotel/Motel Tax. He said “The Hotel/Motel tax would continue in the new organization as well as current funding in support. This was the last disturbing sentence: The City Council will vote on other avenues if this does not proceed. What I am interpreting what is going on here as an extension to forcing that maybe going into incremental steps over time. That’s my only concern.”

Harlan City Administrator Terry Cox says if the Chamber and DevelopSource merged, the tourism committee would continue. Cox saidIf they did merge, this tourism committee would not go away. It’s the best interest of the county. No one is taking the money. The law states what you can do with it.” After further discussion Cox said it is all about finding the best solution. The motions were then passed by the Supervisors.

In other business, Cox asked for a motion in support of the City to look into moving the Harlan City Hall and the Harlan Police Department to the College Park building. Cox said the County gave $100,000 for the building. The planning is in the early stages as Cox brought the idea to every contributor that had invested in the College Park building. The banks approved the idea and liked the possibility of the current City Hall being used as an incubator for start up businesses. As Cox said, this is a possibility and all avenues are being looked at. The motion was approved.

(Joel McCall/KNOD)