City denies Chamber request

    Holyoke City Council rejected a proposal from the Holyoke Chamber of Commerce for $500 in monthly funding during the council’s Jan. 2 meeting.
    Concerns raised by council members included the amount of the proposed contribution and the precedent that could be set by contributing to a nonprofit not affiliated with the City.
    The proposal was removed from the consent agenda at the request of council member Gene Bittner, who questioned whether approving the request was a slippery slope.
    “If another organization comes in here, what are you going to say?” Bittner asked.
    “You’d consider them one by one,” Mayor Orville Tonsing said.
    Council members also brought up the fact that the City has sent representatives to chamber meetings only on an irregular basis. Members and City representatives brought up schedule conflicts that interfere with their ability to represent the City at the meetings.
    Member Scott Murray said he thought the funding was going to be a one-year provision and questioned the chamber’s need for continued support at the 2018 level.
    “I wouldn’t mind giving them some money, but $500 a month seems kind of steep,” Murray said.
    The motion to approve was defeated, with Tonsing voting in favor and six others voting against.
    The City of Holyoke started making monthly contributions of $500 to the chamber in April 2018. Chamber representatives attended the council’s Nov. 20 meeting to express their gratitude and explain how the 2018 money had been spent.
    Tonsing said the chamber is still welcome to submit another proposal for funding, which will be considered separately from the first.
    
Officials, rec director report
     City Superintendent Mark Brown told the council that Diversified Inspections inspected electric department trucks Jan. 2 and found only minor problems.
     The department also took down the Christmas lights at the municipal building and planned to take down lights in the downtown area last week.
    Additionally, the department, along with the water and sewer department, worked on year-end inventory. The street department spread grass at the airport.
     Holyoke Police Chief Doug Bergstrom reported that his department, including code enforcement, handled or generated 262 calls for service from Dec. 13-26. They made five arrests, wrote 34 citations and four reports, and gave out 20 warnings. Code enforcement handled one dog at large.
    Bergstrom also summarized the activities of his department in 2018. Police, including code enforcement, handled or generated 6,856 calls for service, up 1,736 from 2017. They made 39 arrests, issued 250 citations, wrote 141 reports and issued 710 warnings.
    He added that the investigation into the Dec. 19 robbery of Cobblestone Inn & Suites is ongoing and the two suspects are still at large.
    Recreation director Victoria Dunker said her department is in the process of scheduling a visit with a Denver Nuggets community ambassador to visit town and meet with Holyoke students toward the end of January or the beginning of February.
    She said she has been corresponding with former Nuggets player and program leader Mark Randall, who joined the Nuggets in 1993 and later worked as a college scout for the team. He became a community ambassador in 2003 after retiring from professional basketball in 1999.
    
Other business
    In other business Jan. 2, the council:
    — Set 2019 electrical rates for the City of Holyoke, effective Jan. 21.
    — Approved the 2019 wage proposal for City employees/lifeguards.
    — Agreed to send seven City employees to a free course that would allow them to clean, haul and load gravel.
    — Accepted an engagement letter from Lauer, Szabo & Associates, PC, for the audit of financial statements for the year that ended Dec. 31. The fee will not exceed $12,600.
    — Participated in a work session to discuss municipal recodification.

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