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Chamber seeks more funding for park marketing

The Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce has approachedcounty supervisors about a 30 percent budget increase for the newyear.

Cliff Brumfield, chamber executive director, made the requestMonday. Supervisors are presently grappling to set the 2007 budgetamid escalating gasoline and road material costs and risinginsurance premiums. Supervisors have until the end of the month toschedule a public hearing on the budget, which must be approved bySept. 15.

Brumfield said the chamber’s war chest had been exhausted in itscooperative efforts with the county and city to finance the ongoingLinBrook Business Park. The present budget would not allow it toreplenish those developmental funds while continuing to market thecounty to prospective industries.

The Lincoln County chamber receives $5,000 per month for anannual budget of $60,000, Brumfield said. He requested supervisorsraise that funding to $6,500 per month for an annual budget of$78,000. He also requested the same increase of $1,500 per month berepeated in the 2008 and 2009 budget.

“One of the biggest challenges I had coming into this job, and Iknew it, was funding,” he said. “We have one of the smallestbudgets in Mississippi, and it’s about half of the budget of ourlargest neighbor there to the south.”

The Pike County chamber is funded through a set 1.4-millproperty tax assessment, Brumfield said.

Among counties of similar size, Brumfield said Lincoln Countywas second in population but the chamber budget was fifth in size.He did not say how many counties were included in thecomparison.

All of Lincoln county’s economic indicators are up and theaddition of LinBrook to the county offerings for prospectiveindustries looking for an area to locate only increase the county’sability to recruit them, Brumfield said.

However, Brumfield said he had to get them here to show themanything and he can’t do that without funding for marketing.

All of the increase would be spent on marketing, he said. Therewould be no salary increases or additional personnel.

Brumfield said he also requested an increase in funding from thecity. It has been included in city budget plans for the newyear.