Chamber wants more dollars for marketing

Anticipating another busy year ahead promoting Fort Frances and its business community, the local Chamber of Commerce is requesting the town increase its fee-for-service in the 2006 municipal budget from $6,000 to $7,500.
“2005 saw marketing activities increase in several key areas,” Chamber president Gary Rogozinski said as he made the request to council Monday night—one of two presenters who spoke regarding the 2006 budget.
He noted key regional brochures like Discover Fort Frances, MOM’s Way, Sunset Country Travel Guide, and the Border Water Visitor Guide have boosted the number of requests for information in the past year.
“This is the third year in a row that we have seen an increase in the number of calls. This year, we should approach 3,000 requests,” noted Rogozinski, adding these often result in the Chamber sending out information packages.
He said the Chamber continues to participate in programs like the Rainy River Future Development Corp.’s Fort Frances & District Marketing Project, and anticipates that requests for information on Fort Frances will grow even further as a result.
“As the requests grow, the costs to compile and distribute a worthwhile Fort Frances information packages will increase,” said Rogozinski, adding the local Chamber office also fields hundreds of inquiries by phone, fax, and e-mail, and also have assisted many tourists who drop by its Scott Street office.
But at the same time, the Chamber’s marketing efforts should not be eased, as “the slow drop in the U.S. exchange rate and the recent surge in the price of gasoline [means] tourists may become more hesitant coming to our area,” Rogozinski warned.
Rogozinski noted other items the town should consider funding in its 2006 budget include:
•support and financial commitment to projects identified in the “downtown core committee report” (a document to come before council in the near future);
•continued investment in the flower basket/planter project;
•budgeted funding to initiate “the much-needed ‘red tape’ commission”; and
•the installation of a sprinkler system at the ’52 Canadians Arena to allow for increased use year-round.
Meanwhile, local resident Melvin Haukaas suggested Monday night that the town should dig into its reserve funds to pay for sidewalk replacements on the north side of First Street East, between Williams Avenue and Colonization Road East, as well as the north side of King’s Highway from Daniel Avenue to Wal-Mart.
“They should be paid for out of the capital budget because they are a safety issue,” he noted, adding work on the sidewalks has been delayed because the town wanted to do them as “local improvement” projects, which means property owners have to pay a portion of the cost of replacing them.
And in both these cases, the respective property owners have spoken against the construction being done on their dime.
“We can do it. We have the money,” argued Haukaas. “There’s an election coming. There’s a need.”
No one else in attendance Monday evening stepped forward to speak on the 2006 budget.
According to the timetable passed at council’s Sept. 12 meeting, the next step in the budget process will be for the four executive committees to take the information received Monday night and review it during the week of Oct. 3-7.
These same committees then will review the various division budgets during the week of Oct. 17-21.
All documents from these meetings will be handed over to treasurer Peggy Dupuis by Oct. 31, who, in turn, will consolidate the data into a draft budget.
This draft budget then will be reviewed repeatedly by town administration and the committee of the whole throughout November, December, and January before being up for ratification by council in late January.
A second public meeting then will be held Monday, Feb. 13, with the budget anticipated to be ready for a final vote in March.