CARBONDALE – The city is exploring all options when it comes to finding cost-cutting measuring moving into the next budget year.
One of those options involved the possibility of merging the Carbondale Main Street Board and the Carbondale Tourism Board, according to an email sent to the City Council by Carbondale Mayor Mike Henry on Dec. 5. The email was obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.
Henry said to The Southern Illinoisan in a Dec. 10 interview that the idea was only being discussed, and after a meeting with the Main Street Board, it didn’t seem like a popular idea.
“We are looking at it from the standpoint of where can we save some money in the next budget year,” Henry said.
Interim City Manager Gary Williams said the intent was to merge the boards but continue to have two separate entities. He said Main Street or Carbondale Tourism would not cease to exist. However, the city can’t make either board do anything.
“They have to agree to merge boards,” Williams said. “We don’t have any mechanism to make them do that and it is not something that we would want to make somebody do.”
Henry said part of the merger would involve moving both entities into city hall which would project substantial savings. He said the early projection were about $40,000 to $70,000 saved annually.
He said then the city could potentially draw additional tenants that are not city-funded to rent the old train depot where Main Street currently operates.
The aforementioned email read that Carbondale Main Street Executive Director Meghan Cole would not lose her job.
“It wasn’t clear how it would all work out,” Henry said. “We would keep both of those entities because there are benefits to having each one.”
Main Street Board Chairman Steve Payne said the board hasn’t heard much else about a potential proposal since the early December meeting.
“It doesn’t seem like it has any legs to it,” he said. “I think they are trying to turn over every stone possible on every line item to see if there are savings there for the budget.”
Payne said it would be prudent for the board to listen to any proposal from the city since that is where the organizations gets a portion of its funding.
Williams said the Main Street Board is opposed to the idea and it is not something that he is pursuing anymore.