Chamber Board Takes Action on Issues

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Published on March 10 2014 7:51 pm
Last Updated on March 11 2014 1:02 pm
Written by Greg Sapp

The Effingham County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors took action on several items related to local and state issues and reviewed the results of a member opinion poll regarding the proposed County School Facility Sales Tax at their recent meeting.

Board members passed a resolution in support of the Richard E. Workman Sports and Wellness Center that will be built on Effingham Park District property along North Maple Street in Effingham.  The Chamber's support of the project centers around the pledge that the project will not increase taxes on local residents, and that it will be another draw for the community in attracting new businesses and residents.

Board Chairman Mark Probst said, "We view this project as an opportunity to improve the quality of life for our local residents and provide another tool in efforts to attract new investment in Effingham County."

The Board also approved a resolution opposing the proposed minimum wage increase being considered by the Illinois General Assembly.  This is the third year that a bill has been introduced to increase the state's minimum wage to $10/hour over the next three years and then indexed to inflation in subsequent years.  Last year's Chamber poll of members showed overwhelming opposition to this proposal, which would place Illinois with the highest minimum wage in the Midwest and fourth highest in the nation.

Chamber President Norma Lansing noted that beyond support or opposition to the minimum wage increase, local businesses have outlined how the proposal would affect them.  "Local businesses have told us that among the consequences of higher minimum wages are increased product costs and reduced hiring opportunities, especially for lesser skilled workers," Lansing said.  The bill is currently being held in the Senate Executive Committee.

In addition to these actions, the Board of Directors reviewed the results of an opinion poll conducted of Chamber members early in February regarding the proposed County School Facilities Sales Tax.  The poll results showed that 65% of those responding are in favor of the tax swap proposal.  Many who responded felt they need more information about the proposal to make an informed decision.  The proposed 1% sales tax must be exclusively used for school facility purposes.  All five county school districts have indicated that implementation of the sales tax would result in a reduction in property taxes for county residents.  The issue will appear on the March 18 primary election ballot.

The Chamber board also reviewed and approved 2014 division committee goals, heard that the Choices program will again be offered to all eighth grade students in Effingham County through a nationally-funded grant from UPS, a March 7 meeting at Effingham High School was held to solicit support for an adult welding program to be offered locally, and that the Chamber's new website will launch June 1.