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Clearing the air over chamber issue

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Over the past several days much has been written and discussed about the West Linn Chamber of Commerce and specifically the financial involvement of the city of West Linn.

I'd like to share information with West Linn residents about these issues.

Over the past few years, the city has actively participated in many chamber-sponsored functions, including luncheons, the annual dinner, networking sessions and the Farmers and Artists Market.

We participated in these activities because we believe that an active and involved business community creates a vibrant and sustainable community. The Sustainable West Linn report, adopted by the city council in 2006 states: 'West Linn will have achieved a sustainable future when… strong local business meets the majority of resident needs.'

We take pride in our business community and the role we play in maintaining strong local businesses that help achieve the vision of the city. Our staff is always ready and able to provide information the public requests regarding the city's finances.

To the best of my knowledge, no reasonable request has ever been denied during my tenure in West Linn.

Specifically regarding the chamber of commerce, the city provided $12,000 in financial support to the chamber this fiscal year (beginning July 1, 2007) for the farmers market; and has also paid less than $1,000 for membership dues, luncheon and dinner expenses and reception fees. These expenses were included in the fiscal year 2008 budget, approved by the citizen Budget Committee and adopted by the city council.

A city council priority is accurate and timely financial reporting and record keeping. In the past two years, we have uncovered a major embezzlement; hired new auditors; hired professional, experienced management staff in the finance department; greatly improved our financial and budget policies; tightened our internal controls; won a major national award for our budget; and created a more transparent approach to managing all of our resources.

We have also instituted a grant application process so that community organizations such as the chamber may apply for city funds for very specific projects or programs. Such grants will need to be reviewed and awarded by the Budget Committee depending on available resources.

By doing this, we leave a trail of accountability for both these organizations and ourselves.

West Linn citizens deserve the very best financial management from us, and we welcome your review and scrutiny. Please feel free to drop by city hall and discuss any of your concerns with our finance staff.

Chris Jordan is the city manager of West Linn.