The Crookston City Council has granted Crookston Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Terri Heggie’s request to have the City pay for an audit of the Chamber’s finances, concluding that the cost is worth it if the result is everyone having a better handle on the current state of the Chamber budget.

The Crookston City Council has granted Crookston Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Terri Heggie’s request to have the City pay for an audit of the Chamber’s finances, concluding that the cost is worth it if the result is everyone having a better handle on the current state of the Chamber budget.

    Heggie estimates it will cost $4,500 to $5,000 for the audit to be conducted by Brady Martz, but that cost also includes an audit of the Convention & Visitors’ Center’s books, which the City previously agreed to cover. The CVB is affiliated with the City but the Chamber is an independent organization that receives no City funding. The City and Chamber have an agreement in place allowing for the Chamber to operate the CVB and receive 95 percent of the lodging tax annually collected from visitors staying in local hotels. The remaining 5 percent is held by the City in the form of an administrative fee, and the cost of auditing the CVB comes from that 5 percent.

    Heggie cited a trio of main points in making her request. One, she said the Chamber and CVB finances are “quite intertwined” and, therefore, difficult to separate. Two, she said the Chamber’s last audit was so long ago that few people seem to remember when it actually took place. Three, with Heggie taking over as Chamber director earlier this year after Amanda Lien’s resignation, she said she felt it was important to “start with a clean slate” in regard to the status of the Chamber’s finances.

    Some council members and Mayor Wayne Melbye said approving Heggie’s makes sense, with some saying it’s typical in many businesses and organizations for an audit to take place when there is change at the top.

    “I think it’s worth a little extra cost to do the whole works,” Ward 1 Council Member Jake Fee said. “It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to have one set of books audited and not the other.”

    Chamber Board President Chris Fee noted that it’s his goal for the Chamber to start setting aside some funding, enough so that the Chamber can finance its own audit every five years. “We want to be able to remember the last audit,” he added.

    “It seems like a necessity,” added Ward 2 Council Member Steve Erickson. “It was done so long ago, it seems like a disaster waiting to happen.”

    With better software being purchased and put into operation regarding the Chamber’s books going forward, Heggie said she expects future audits would cost less than the first one, which she said will be a bit more tedious.

    The council’s Ways & Means Committee unanimously approved the request, with the stipulation that the council receive a copy of the Chamber audit report.

    The council is expected to consider a resolution at its July 23 meeting.