Harlan City Council discusses economic merger & tax usage


November 7th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The Harlan City Council, Tuesday, welcomed a group of Shelby County citizens to discuss the Shelby County DevelopSource and Chamber merger along with the Hotel/Motel tax. During the Council’s regular session, Citizens for Betterment of Shelby County, led by business owners Ruth Ann Grimsley, Teresa Coenen and Judy Schroeder presented the council with a petition signed by current chamber members, non-members and other business owners supporting the merger. Schroeder read the letter to the board, which included comments about the merger.

The letter said the group applauds efforts to combine DevelopSource and Chamber. It said while the two organizations have different short term goals, the long term goal is to grow the county’s economy, and to that end, a pooling of resources and ideas, they said, would result in many positive outcomes on projects that are undertaken. Marty Burchett, another Shelby County business owner and current Chamber board member issued a rebuttal to the council. She said he didn’t think it’s a decision that should be rushed into. Burchett said that’s because DevelopSource has a new person and there are new board members that are not up to speed on the topic. Another reason he said was that “Some of the people that are pushing for this thought it was okay to split it up 10 years ago.”

Shelby County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Dawn Cundiff reported that the Hotel/Motel Tax was being used for projects such as signage, vision Iowa and brochures. She also said the tourism committee has been working hard. The discussion then drifted from the merger and hotel/motel tax to discussion about Chamber ambassador visits, dues from members and other topics.  At a previous City Council meeting, it was suggested an audit should be completed on the Hotel/Motel tax. Since that time, an audit has been done and will be reported to the council at the next meeting on Tuesday, November 20th.

(Joel McCall/KNOD)