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September 10, 2013 > Chamber postpones Milpitas BBQ

Chamber postpones Milpitas BBQ

Submitted By Frank Addiego

The Milpitas Chamber of Commerce has postponed its fundraiser barbeque that was to be held at the end of September. Lately, the Chamber has had to make deep budget cuts, including the termination of CEO Carol Kassab. "We got a note from our CFO that we did not have enough money in the bank," said Chamber president Elizabeth Ainsworth, who summed up the lack of progress on the event saying, "As of this moment, we have two contestants for the international barbeque competition... [whereas] the intention was to have a professional contest on one day and a mom and pop contest the other day."

Last week, the city council had planned to approve a $20,000 loan for the event, but City Manager Tomas Williams pulled the item from the consent calendar, recommending an interest accrual after two years if it's not paid off. The loan, however, has been taken out of consideration, at least until plans for the event become more concrete.

"We did get a call from a couple of members of the board," said Councilmember Debbie Indihar-Giordano, "they were considering cancelling the barbeque unless some certain things happened... it was my idea to actually front the chamber with some money." Giordano hoped that the Chamber would use the loan for things like generators in the context of the barbeque, but withdrew her support for the loan when it appeared that the event would be postponed or even cancelled.

Members of city council seemed open to the idea of postponing the event until next year, possibly during late spring/early summer. "When I read this agenda item, I had some discussions and thoughts, and one of them was to request tonight that the chamber postpone the barbeque and make it part of the 60th anniversary," said Vice Mayor Polanski, "we want to do a year-long celebration and we thought this would fit in good."

On top of other financial difficulties the Chamber of Commerce currently faces, their landlord has raised the rent. The Chamber of Commerce plans to leave their current office and the City Council discussed allocating space in City Hall or elsewhere on city property for a lower rate.

"The current space that we're in is about 1500 square feet; we're paying something around 90¢ per square foot," said Thomas Valore, Chief Financial Officer for the Chamber of Commerce, "so if we get something approximating that, or something just slightly less than that at 55¢, there's further savings that can accrue." The city council will bring this issue up for action at the next meeting.

Valore also mentioned the need for a "strong membership drive," with which Councilmember Carmen Montano agreed, saying, "I know a lot of businesses and I've asked them, 'are you a member of the chamber,' and they say, 'No, we've never been approached.'"

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