Weston business owners seek chamber audit

Some Weston business owners are questioning the city’s contract with the Weston Chamber of Commerce and are calling for cash freeze and an external audit of the chamber.

R. Allen Macy owner Richard Stout presented an open letter signed by a dozen members of the Weston business community at the Monday, May 13 meeting of the board of aldermen. The letter is copied to Missouri auditor Nicole Galloway and Platte County auditor Kevin Robinson.

The letter states there are three areas of concern regarding the chamber, which is funded through a three-eighths-cent tourism sales tax approved by Weston voters in 2004. Originally intended to handle economic development, marketing and staffing of a visitor’s center, the letter states the chamber is no longer functioning as intended.

“Perhaps the model under which we operate no longer meets the needs of our community,” the letter states. “Any review at this time must include input from the business community and retail license holders of Weston at large.”

The city’s contract with the chamber is 15 years old and has never been reviewed, Stout said. In the letter, the group questions the validity of the aging contract and how much public money has been sent to the chamber in the past 15 years through the sales tax.

“We respectfully demand a complete audit to be performed as soon as possible,” the letter states. “We also request all public tourism tax funds currently held by the City of Weston to be frozen until the audit can be completed.”

The letter was signed by Stout, Jo Ann Yazel, Dina Minor, Michael Bless, Robert Mitchell, John Pottie, Mel Beverlin, Cheryl Mitchell, Patrick Larsen, Kathy Heptiq, Kathleen O’Malley and Louis Smither.

Mayor Steven George said he would take the contents of the letter under advisement, but that he had already been in touch with Chamber of Commerce leadership to discuss ongoing concerns.

The board also heard from representatives of Public Water District No. 3 about the water rate increase approved earlier this year for water districts 3 and 7. President Joe Matthews said the district wishes to open dialog with the city about the rate increase and the city’s rationale. The district asked the city to reduce the rate and begin the dialog, based on a report from the Missouri Rural Water Association stating the increase was based upon depreciation of infrastructure. The water district questions this line of reasoning, as they argue much of the infrastructure was funded through federal grants instead of via city funds.