Anticipating less support from the Covina Redevelopment Agency this year, the Chamber of Commerce has decided to sever financial ties with the agency.
The agency, whose members are the five City Council members, has partially funded the chamber. Last year, the agency gave the chamber $30,000 to supplement its $310,000 budget, said Randy Gordon, executive director of the chamber.
“The makeup of the council has changed,” said Tim Burlingame, chamber president. “Former council members were very, very strong supporters of the chamber. We don’t sense that from the new council.”
In last April’s election, Tom O’Leary, Gary Coffey, and Chris Lancaster were elected to the council. O’Leary and Coffey have sided with Mayor Robert Low on some issues, such as the renovation of City Hall, which the chamber did not support.
“It was the feeling of the (chamber) board of directors that our chances of getting funding would probably not be too good this year,” Burlingame said.
Low said that “the job of the council is not to rubber stamp chamber action. We have a duty to represent all of the citizens of the community.”
Cutting financial ties with the agency will help to make the chamber more independent, Burlingame said. The chamber may want to disagree with the city and the agency on future issues, he said.
“We would like to be able to do that without checking the bank account,” Burlingame said.
Gordon said that even when the chamber was receiving about 10% of its revenues from the agency, the chamber board did not believe there was a conflict of interest. By declining agency funding completely, the chamber is making sure no doubt remains, he said.
The chamber plans to make up the lost city funding by raising membership dues 20% and by sponsoring more fund-raising events, Gordon said.