Taxpayer Subsidy to Chamber of Commerce Draws Criticism

A group of people opposing a Metro property tax increase said the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce should refuse to accept a $300,000 Metro subsidy after endorsing the tax plan, reports The Tennessean.
Talk radio host Ralph Bristol, Nashville Tea Party founder Ben Cunningham, businessman Lee Beaman and Justin Owen of the Beacon Center of Tennessee, a conservative think tank, said the chamber should live without the city subsidy “to avoid a perceived conflict of interest.”
“In its statement, the Chamber pointed to the need to raise government employee salaries and fund our schools as justification for the tax increase,” the group said in a news release. “Refusing its $300,000 subsidy will help ensure that every dollar of the proposed tax hike goes to fund those programs the Chamber claims warrant the tax hike in the first place, rather than to boost its own bottom line.”
Bert Mathews, chairman of the chamber’s board of directors, dismissed the opponents’ comments in a phone interview.
“The money the chamber receives is for a contract for services rendered,” he said. “We’re providing economic development support to the city. It’s just like any vendor fixing your air conditioner or changing light bulbs. That’s our sense of it.”

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