Jonesboro chamber turns management of A&P Commission back to the city

by Michael Wilkey ([email protected]) 214 views 

Jonesboro city and chamber officials said Monday (March 14) that a working agreement between the Jonesboro Advertising and Promotions Commission and the Jonesboro Regional Chamber of Commerce has ended, with the city of Jonesboro taking over full management of the commission.

The chamber, through Vice President and Chief Operations Officer Cari White, has run the day-to-day operations of the commission since October 2010. The commission voted in October 2010 to pay $1,000 a month to the chamber for managing support for the commission, Jonesboro Finance Director Suzanne Allen said. Since then, the commission has paid a total of $65,000 from October 2010 to February 2016 to the chamber for operations. Allen said there was no contract between the commission and the chamber, or anyone else, prior to the October 2010 agreement, which took effect in January 2011.

The seven-member commission meets quarterly to discuss funding tourism and visitor related projects in Jonesboro. The commission is funded though a 3% tax on the renting of hotel rooms in Jonesboro. The tax brought in about $630,000 in revenue during 2015, though official numbers are expected to be known at the commission’s meeting in April.

In the one-page resignation letter, dated March 3, 2016, White said the work, especially in the past two years, “has taken far more of my time and energy than I have available.” Chamber president Mark Young agreed, saying the chamber is short staffed and discussions about a change began late last year.

Young said Tuesday (March 15) that no other factors, including the recent debate over two convention center projects in Jonesboro and the debate statewide over the role of advertising and promotions commissions, cities and the state’s Freedom of Information Act, played a role in the decision to end the agreement.

The commission voted 3-2 March 2 to appropriate $300,000 over the next three years to an Illinois based group, Keller Management, for their convention center project, which has been supported by Mayor Harold Perrin. The commission did not support a competing project pushed by Arkansas State University.

All records and files involving the A&P commission were sent to Allen. Allen said Monday her office was still reviewing the documents and setting up a game plan for operating the commission. Allen said the commission will now meet at Jonesboro Municipal Center and her office will be in charge of putting together financial statements and taking minutes.