Springfield Alderman Continues Pursuit Of R.C. Chamber Financial Records
SPRINGFIELD TENNESSEE: (Smokey Barn News) – As an update to our story from July, Springfield Alderman Clay Sneed was in General Sessions court Thursday trying to get his hands on “the books and accounts” from the Robertson County Chamber. According to Sneed, the books and accounts are the basis of a financial “summary” he received from the Chamber. Sneed’s not interested in a summary, he wants to see the actual financial books themselves.
Today, as predicted, Judge Perry told Sneed that his case belonged in Chancery Court. Sneed said General Sessions Court was a good place to start for two reasons, one, he was familiar with General Sessions Court and two, getting the suit on file as quickly as possible prevents the Robertson County Chamber from changing the bylaws to make it more difficult for him, or any Chanmber member, to see the books.
“The Robertson County Chamber of Commerce budget is in the neighborhood of $500,000. There’s four or five employees there, I want to see the breakdown to-the-cent of how they appropriate all the tax dollars and the membership dues they receive,” Sneed said in July.”
Sneed says, “If there is any doubt that there’s something wrong with the Chamber’s books, they, retained an attorney to fight a 30-year (dues paying member) to prevent him from seeing the records because they’re in the hands of the accountant?”
According to Sneed, the Chamber bylaws, and the fact that they are a 501C3 organization, grants him the right to see the books. Sneed says the Chamber does not feel they are legally compelled to show him the books. Now it will be up to a judge in Chancery Court to decide.
What Sneed is looking for is more than just a summary. “I want to know, by looking at the relevant documents, how the sums that are on these statements got there. I want the proof behind the totals.”
Sneed said the Chamber gave him the accountants number but Sneed admits he never dialed it. “I’ve asked him in the past for information and he told me to get it from the Chamber through a records request.”
It’s important to note that Sneed is not pursuing the Chamber financial records as an Alderman, he wants to see the books as a dues paying Chamber member.
Here’s the section that Sneed will be referencing in Chancery Court. According to Sneed, it gives him the right to see the books.
Article 8: SECTION 6. The Executive Committee shall cause to be reviewed annually the books and accounts of the Chamber at the close of business for the fiscal year, and report it’s findings to the Board of Directors and make the same available to the membership. All recommendations for expenditures outside the budget shall be submitted to the Executive Committee whose recommendations shall be submitted to the Board.
Below is a copy of the Chamber’s response to Sneed’s request for the books forwarded to Smokey Barn News by Sneed.. Note the section in bold.
“Since 2005, the Chamber Board has contracted with an independent accountant (Frank Luppe) to create payroll checks, submit payroll taxes, prepare an annual financial statement and file our 990 each year. In this role he “reviews” the books and accounts and produces a year end financial report to the Board. As I mentioned in response to your previous request, the fiscal year ends March 31, and Mr. Luppe is currently in the process of producing the year-end report and 990 for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2017. When it is available you are welcome to have a copy of that report and of the 990… the general membership is not granted the ability to “review the books and accounts”…that is the independent accountant’s role.”
Smokey Barn News did reach out to the Robertson County Chamber for comment back in July, however, a spokesperson was not available and no one from the Chamber has reached out to Smokey Barn News since then. With the pending litigation, it’s not likely the Chamber will comment but if they do reach out to us with a statement we will bring it to you.
Sneed said he will have his Writ ready for Chancery Count in two or three weeks.