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Island chamber still waiting on county payment

By Rick Catlin, Islander Reporter

Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce board members learned at their June 15 meeting that the chamber still had not been paid $40,000 owed by Manatee County for the chamber’s service as a tourist information center from November 2010 through May 2011.

But chamber president Mary Ann Brockman said a retroactive contract was on the county commission’s June 21 agenda. If passed, Brockman was hopeful the chamber would immediately get at least the estimated $8,000 owed for November and December.

The chamber has continued to act as a tourist information center for the county since Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau executive director Elliott Falcione told Brockman in January county attorneys wanted a contract to replace a verbal agreement with former BACVB director Larry White. The verbal agreement was in place since 2001, Brockman said.

It’s taken nearly five months to get a contract both sides agree upon, Brockman said.

During the past few months, with no monthly income from the county, Brockman cut back in some areas and occasionally borrowed against the chamber’s money market certificate to meet payroll and other expenses. The monthly BACVB funds cover postage, rent and miscellaneous costs associated with promoting county tourism.

“I’m extremely hopeful this will pass,” Brockman told the board.

In other business, chamber board members discussed the possibility that dues might be raised to meet rising expenses. That discussion was continued to the July 20 meeting.

The board learned that a planned November Caribbean cruise was canceled because the chamber did not receive the minimum required reservations to confirm passengers.

Larry Chatt reported some “bugs” in development of a new website, but expects the site to be running by July 1. The interactive website will give each chamber member a listing that can be changed and updated by the member.

Board member David Teitelbaum reported that ad sales for the new Island trolleys that begin operating in August are “going well.” Prior advertisers were given first choice on location and all have signed up to advertise.

About three-fourths of all the available ad space on the trolleys has been sold, he said.

The first of the county’s new trolleys will begin operating in August, with other trolleys to become operational in the ensuing months. Five trolleys will be in the fleet, although only three will operate at any one time on the Island. The remaining trolleys will be in maintenance. The Island trolley service will continue fare-free, Teitelbaum noted.

Brockman said the chamber is taking applications for its 2011 business awards. Anyone wishing to nominate a business for an award can go to the chamber’s website at www.annamariaislandchamber.org and download an application.

A date and location for the awards dinner has not been chosen, although Brockman said she is hoping to find a location for a Nov. 7 banquet.

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