Emptied chamber pot

Will city’s debt forgiveness stop Rancho Cordova Chamber of Commerce’s financial slide?

This is an extended version of a story that appears in the Aug. 8, 2019 issue.

The Rancho Cordova Chamber of Commerce found an unconventional way to clear a decade-old debt to the city—get the city to convert it to a grant.

The Rancho Cordova City Council voted June 17 to convert an outstanding loan balance totaling $192,079.94 into a grant. The chamber had received a $201,882.04 loan in 2008 followed later by an additional loan of $36,832.52, according to a memorandum by Kim Juran-Karageorgiou, administrative services director for the city.

Donald Childs, who finished third in the race for Rancho Cordova City Council in the November 2018 election, criticized the loan forgiveness.

“This is just basic sloppy housekeeping of their finances,” Childs said of the chamber.

Juran-Karageorgiou noted in her memorandum that an amended loan agreement had called for the chamber to make monthly payments of $1,550. She also noted that in April 2018, the chamber requested “to cease loan payments due to financial hardship until the question of loan forgiveness could be discussed.”

Publicly-available tax forms for the chamber, a nonprofit, show that it cleared only $22,381 after expenses in 2016. This margin shrank to $7,182 in 2017, though employee compensation for the chamber jumped by $16,503 that year. Total revenue for the chamber totaled just $313,638 in 2017, a fraction of Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce’s $4.65 million revenue for 2017.

Rancho Cordova deputy city manager Micah Runner defended the council decision. “I think converting the loan to a grant allowed them to carry out the activities which they weren’t able to carry out having to make loan payments,” Runner said.

Diann Rogers, president and CEO for the chamber, also defended the work of her 4.5-member staff. “I’m very proud of what this chamber has done in terms of being efficient and being effective and being judicious with our dollars,” Rogers said.