In a budget study session Thursday afternoon, Salina City Commissioners heard a pitch from Chamber of Commerce President Dennis Lauver about the return on the investment of the dollars the city gives to the chamber for economic development.
The first half hour of the meeting was behind close doors due to the confidential nature of the items of economic development being worked on by the chamber.
The Chamber is requesting $206,000 in funding for 2012, for economic development, and that would be close to a $10,000 increase over the funding for 2011. Lauver gave several examples of how the investment of city funding has benefited the city and has brought jobs to Salina.
Commissioner Barb Shirley pointed out that the City of Manhattan gives only $125,000, and Lawrence provides $200,000. Both significantly larger cities in comparison to Salina.
Lauver said efforts by the Chamber has brought jobs to Salina that were taken away from communities in West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Texas, Pennsylvania, California, and Indonesia.
As the study session was winding down, Commissioner Aaron Householter asked if the work that was done by Salina Downtown Inc. and the Chamber was redundant. Householter also asked if it was time “to admit that the Lee District was a failure” and downtown should be called downtown, not a district that is named for two empty windowless buildings.
Final budget decisions by the City Commission will come next month, with public hearings before a final vote is taken by the Commission on the 2012 budget.