Fraser adopts budget, withdraws Chamber funding
December 8, 2016
The Fraser Town Council voted unanimously to adopt their 2017 annual budget Wednesday night.
One major change in the budget was the Board's decision to no longer provide funding to the Winter Park & Fraser Chamber. This decision came after much discussion of whether Fraser was seeing any return in their investment from Chamber funding.
Individuals and businesses can still fund the Chamber themselves; the only change is that the Town does not contribute any money from their budget. The Fraser board encouraged Fraser businesses to continue funding or join the Chamber.
Since 2014, Fraser has funded the Chamber anywhere between $60,000 to around $80,000 each year. For 2017, this money is going to be used to expand Fraser's businesses and develop new businesses.
According to their economic development plans, Fraser wants to develop their own business community with additions of more employee housing, restaurants, and shopping. Those in favor of withdrawing from the Chamber said they wanted to use the money that is normally spent on the Chamber to pursue other business development. The Town is looking into creating a business recruiter-type position strictly for the town of Fraser. While the details of the job are still in the early stages, most of the Board agreed it is the right move for Fraser.
"I think we need to have someone in our town that is here to help develop Fraser and bring new businesses here," said board member Parnell Quinn.
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"I think the Chamber, in all, does a really good job. I think they are vital to the community and a good asset, but I don't think it's something we need to be funding when we have individual's who can fund it through their companies."
Trustee Cody Clayton Taylor agreed:
"We have been funding the Chamber for a long time and I would be interested to try something new to see the return on investment. I would like to see what Fraser could do with the same allocation of dollars specifically for Fraser. If it doesn't work, it doesn't work."
Board members Andy Miller and Katie Soles stressed that they were not in favor of the decision. Miller stated that the towns of Winter Park and Fraser need each other, and it could hurt Fraser's reputation to withdraw funding.
The Board held public discussion for the budget, but there were no public or Chamber representatives in attendance. The budget was adopted unanimously.
Another notable change in Fraser's 2017 budget was the increase of the Town Board's salaries by about $20,000. The increase comes with the addition of two new paid committees: the Public Arts Committee and the Economic Development Advisory Committee.