Chamber Could Face Revenue Shortfall
Officials are worried about a state decision as the final week of beach season begins.
The Hampton Area Chamber of Commerce could be in a large financial hole thanks to a state decision several local officials say will vastly reduce the chamber's revenue.
Chamber President Doc Noel said the state hasn't allowed the chamber to have a 24-hour automated teller machine outside its new visitor's center in North Pavilion.
Noel said the "very, very frustrating" decision could prove to be devastating once the chamber finalizes its numbers after Seafood Festival, as he said the revenue from the ATM largely funded the operation of the old office and could create problems this fall and next season.
"We want it real bad but they just don’t want it," said Noel, referring to the ATM. "We were very, very disappointed when we were told we were not getting it because we've had it for years and years."
The decision came down from the state earlier this summer when the chamber opened the North Pavilion visitor's center, which does have an ATM inside that is only accessible during business hours and will be closed until May after this weekend.
Noel said the chamber wasn't told exactly why a 24-hour ATM wasn't allowed. Amy Bassett, a spokesperson for the state, said Thursday she was working on finding the answer.
Having an interior ATM does help, although Noel said he will push in lease renegotiations this fall for an exterior ATM because the old location's machine was the second-most used on the beach, even during the offseason months.
Noel said he didn't wish to disclose the total revenue brought in by the old ATM, although he said revenues will likely be a small fraction of what they once were if they don't have an ATM with yearround access.
"I don’t know what's going to happen next year," said Noel. "Obviously, we're discussing it big time to say the least. We can’t sell anything in [the visitor's center]... because we can’t compete with our members. That's why this is so important to this building.
"It's State of New Hampshire property, though. They're the boss."