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Guthrie cracking down on Chamber of Commerce after suspicions of tax payer dollars going missing

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GUTHRIE, Okla. - Guthrie's Chamber of Commerce is under fire, accused of mishandling tax payer dollars.

Now the City of Guthrie is considering stripping them of a lot of their responsibilities.

The mayor says these allegations are nothing but a misunderstanding, but because of them the city is facing some major changes.

He says he's right in the middle of it all, playing referee between both sides.

Mayor Mark Spradlin said, “Tourism is big for this town. We want to keep people coming in.”

Tax payer dollars are important to supporting some of Guthrie's most famous parades and festivals, including last year's Gentleman of the Road tour.

But that money has to come from City Hall first, then it is passed on to the hands of the Chamber of Commerce before it gets to the city's Convention and Visitor's Bureau.

Mayor Spradlin says there are several mistakes the Chamber has made this year that have some thinking the money isn't getting where it's supposed to.

"This is a combination of City Council, business owners, citizens who both good and bad for whatever reason don't fully understand what's going on,” said Mayor Spradlin.

Spradlin says the Chamber has been spending money they aren't 100% positive is theirs to spend.

So when it comes time to pay the bill they come up short.

This year the Chamber made an $800 investment to a local art group...

Spradlin said, "During the process be it accidental, on purpose whatever it was, nobody knows, that $800 never showed up on the books."

He says it was just an oversight and the money's been accounted for

"So the chamber made a mistake,” says Spradlin.

But because of that, the city is cracking down with a new contract that makes the chamber feel like they're being micromanaged.

The President of the Chamber declined an on camera interview but says they have until next week to accept or deny that new contract, or they will no longer be involved.

Spradlin says if that happens tourism in Guthrie will have to take a break while the city figures things out.

Spradlin said, "You hate to see the kind of turmoil that this is putting a lot of people through."

Sept. 30 is the deadline for the Chamber of Commerce to accept or deny the city's proposed contract.

If they deny they will no longer oversee the city's Convention and Visitors Bureau and it will be just a transition period, but it can all be avoided.