The first hour of the workshop will be devoted to a discussion of issues facing businesses in Ridgway and will be presented as a sit-down with town council in a workshop environment rather than a regular town council setting. John Lorimer, vice president of the RACC Board of Directors, said in an interview on Tuesday that the first issue businesses are facing is a possible water and sewer rate increase.
“The owners of businesses are very concerned with the possible rate increase on water and sewer,” Lorimer said. A draft ordinance of increased water and sewer rates was presented to Town Council at their Aug. 12 meeting. Faced with in an operating deficit, council is mulling ways to get those two enterprises in the black. “We are working on some alternative ideas to give the town on a positive note. We understand they are needed but can we do this without killing businesses?”
Next, Lorimer said the RACC would like to “readdress” the town’s signage ordinances at the workshop. “We don’t want big gaudy signs but it would be nice for businesses to be able to put out a sign on the sidewalk that says they have a sale without the building inspector coming over to take them down,” he said.
Finally, Lorimer said the chamber would like to address the way the town handles special events and the vendors it selects to attend the events.
“We would really appreciate it if the town would talk to local businesses in setting up vendor booths instead of going to outside vendors first,” Lorimer said. “Those are the main topics of discussion but I am sure there will be some ‘sub issues’ as well.”
The RACC has also been gathering data from its member businesses through a survey that was recently circulated. According to the chamber, it has received good response to the survey and will have a compilation of results and comments soon. Lorimer said some of the results from that survey could be discussed at the workshop.
Since he first brought the idea of having a joint workshop with town council on Aug. 12, Lorimer said the number of RACC memberships has dropped from 150 to 90.
“We have had a couple businesses who said they can’t survive here because of the anti-business stance the town has thrown at them,” Lorimer said. “That is only a couple. A majority of them [who have dropped membership] said that they just don’t have the money to rejoin.”
Lorimer said that the RACC Board will represent the businesses as best they can in working with the town to improve the business environment.
“We can’t speak for those businesses who aren’t members on what the hot topics are,” he said. “What can we, as a business community, do better hand in hand with the town? That is really where we want to take this discussion. We need to find a way of working with the town and we need to find ways to help each other.”