SCV Chamber releases Latino Chamber tax filing, has settled lawsuit

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The Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce Wednesday released the 2015 federal tax filing for the SCV Latino Chamber, the final such filing for the Latino group, with the larger Chamber absorbed that year.

The filing showed the Latino Chamber had total revenue of $44,829 and total expenses of $46,300, for a net deficit of $1,471, which was all but erased by a balance left from the previous year of $1,469.

“We needed to make a filing for 2015, the last year of the Latino Chamber as a separate organization,” said John Musella, 2017 chairman of the SCV’s board. “For whatever reason, it wasn’t done. We needed to fix it and we did.”

Musella said that the Latino Chamber transferred its outstanding balance from its checking and savings accounts with two checks dated March 7, 2015. He said the amounts of the checks are not public information, and that the transactions matched bank records.

The 150-member SCV Latino Chamber merged with the SCV Chamber Feb. 1, 2015, giving the combined organization a total of 1,200 members at the time. After the SCV Chamber absorbed the 53-member Castaic Chamber in 2015, its membership reached 1,250. It currently has 955 members.

In a separate move that eliminated a possible financial liability, the SCV Chamber on June 30 settled a lawsuit filed April 7 against it by My Three Sons, LLC, owner of the building at 27451 Tourney Road that formerly housed the Chamber’s offices. My Three Sons sued for “an amount not less than $700,000” to recover four years’ worth of unpaid rent, brokers’ commissions, and interest.

In 2009, the Chamber signed a ten-year lease on nearly 4,000 square feet of space on Tourney Rd. for rent that started at $4,240 a month, or $2.50 a square foot, and increased to $11,064.75, or $3.26 a square foot, for its final year ending March 31, 2020.

Terms of the settlement, signed by Musella on behalf of the Chamber and Mitchell Farber on behalf of My Three Sons, were not disclosed.

“We’ve settled with the Chamber’s former landlord, so we’ve put that issue to bed,” Musella said. “We’ve turned ourselves around financially. The Chamber will be 100 percent debt-free in less than sixty days, and that’s significant.”

The turnaround “was not complicated,” he said.  “We cut overhead and we increased revenue.” The Chamber eliminated its CEO position in March and has a one-year essentially rent-free lease on space in Santa Clarita City Hall.

“We’ve told the city that we’ll be out of the space in City Hall by the end of November, which is the end of our agreement with the city,” Musella said, adding that the Chamber is in discussions with potential landlords, and hopes to move by Nov. 1. The chamber has no current plans to add staff, he said.

The Chamber is holding a strategic planning session August 25, to be moderated by Holly Schroeder, CEO of the Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Corp. It is currently conducting a survey of members and community stakeholders on its future direction and focus.




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