A proposed bylaw amendment to allow for a fee increase tied to the Alberta consumer price index (CPI) — minus food prices — was shot down by Olds and District Chamber of Commerce members during their annual general meeting (AGM).
Ironically, they voted for a five per cent increase in fees, much more than the up to 2.5 per cent projected under the proposed amendment brought forward by the chamber’s board of directors.
The argument against the amendment was led by Bill Dunbar during the AGM, held March 9 at the Pomeroy Inn & Suites.
He said the fees should be set every year after the board has closely scrutinized all chamber programs and projects to ensure they’re necessary and are run as efficiently as possible.
Dunbar said under the proposed amendment, that would not happen. The fees would simply be set automatically according to the Alberta CPI.
Harvey Walsh gave a similar argument, saying the board, in effect, would be “abdicating its responsibility” to oversee that aspect of chamber operations.
During an approximately 25-minute discussion, Dunbar called for the proposed motion to be voted down, saying at the very least, it should be tabled to give the incoming board an opportunity to examine the idea.
It was pointed out if that was done, the measure couldn’t be implemented for a year, because under the chamber’s bylaws, such proposals have to be voted on during the chamber’s annual meetings.
Chamber director Ben Stone argued in favour of the amendment, saying the Alberta CPI (minus food costs, but including oil and gas) is the fairest way to calculate the fee.
It was noted that according to the proposed amendment, if the CPI fell, the fee would remain at the previous level.
Stone was supported by chamber director Mary Jane Harper, who said in any case, the impact on fees under this system would be minimal on a $123,000 budget.
She described it as “very reasonable,” adding that tying the fee to the Alberta CPI “takes the politics out of it.”
Chamber director Judy Schlichenmayer said there’s more financial stress on the chamber now because it no longer has the opportunity to obtain revenue via 50/50 ticket raffle draws so “our ability to earn revenue has gone down.”
Chamber director Bill Hall and former chamber president Doug Rieberger also voiced support for the amendment.
In the end, the amendment was defeated and a motion to increase chamber fees by five per cent this year was passed.
Also during the meeting, Rieberger stepped down after six years with the chamber. He was praised for his years of service and received a gift.
Board members Judy Schlichenmayer (three-year term) and Bill Hall (one-year term) were returned by acclamation.
The board will choose its executive for 2016-17 when it meets tomorrow night.