Home World Saratoga City Council authorizes Chamber of Commerce budget increase

Saratoga City Council authorizes Chamber of Commerce budget increase


The Saratoga City Council voted to approve a 15% increase to the Chamber of Commerce budget for the upcoming fiscal year at its April 3 meeting.

The Chamber requested the bump in light of increasing costs for small business owners in the city, who have been leaning on the Chamber’s free resources to maintain their operations. The Chamber of Commerce contracts with the city to maintain an office that’s open 35 hours a week to serve as a visitor’s center for the city and provide resources and support for local businesses.

Its operating budget is $17,662 for the 2023-24 fiscal year. The budget has been increasing by 3% year over year since 2016.

The 15% increase will only be for the 2024-25 fiscal year, upping the budget to $20,311, and in the following fiscal year the 3% increases will resume as usual, officials said.

The council voted 4-0-1 to approve the increase. Councilmember Chuck Page, a former Chamber of Commerce president, recused himself from the vote due to a conflict of interest.

Councilmember Kookie Fitzsimmons, who moved to approve the request, said the Chamber already operates on a “shoestring” budget.

“More than the money, we need the residents to come and support the businesses, but we can’t vote on that tonight,” Councilmember Tina Walia said.

Vice Mayor Belal Aftab called the increase “prudent.”

“We appreciate that inflation has also been high in the last couple of years, and even in spite of the high inflation in 2022 and 2023 we didn’t have this increase, and that’s why I’m in support of it,” Aftab said.

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