The board of directors of the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce will soon begin a nationwide search to replace the chamber's executive director after accepting her resignation Wednesday.
Karen Chrjapin submitted her resignation Jan. 15, the day after the executive board voted to withhold scheduled pay raises for the chamber's staff, she said.
"We've got a new board and a new executive committee, and things just change," said Chrjapin, who had been the director since March 2007. "It doesn't mean anyone is right or wrong."
The chamber's board of directors was notified about the resignation in a meeting Thursday morning, said board Chairman John T.Y. Smith, who described the resignation as "very friendly."
"The chamber is growing and going forward. Columbia County is moving forward. It's business as usual," Smith said. "We're sorry that she resigned, but we've got to move along."
Chrjapin said she submitted her resignation because the new chamber board that took over at the beginning of the year voted to withhold budgeted merit raises for all chamber staff members.
The 2008 board in December had approved the 2009 budget, but the new board that took over after the chamber's Jan. 12 annual meeting decided the raises wouldn't be "prudent" during the current national financial crisis, Chrjapin said.
The chamber's financial footing is solid, she insisted, pointing out that when she took over as director the chamber had a $25,000 deficit that since has turned into a $200,000 operating fund.
"We just have a different business philosophy," Chrjapin said, adding she didn't feel she could "stay around and adapt" to the new chamber board.
Smith said Chrjapin's resignation allows her to stay on for 60 days while the chamber conducts a national search for her successor, and that the board could also appoint an interim director if needed.
All chamber functions will continue uninterrupted, Smith said, including the upcoming Columbia County Day reception for lawmakers at the state Capitol Wednesday.
"It's on," Smith said. "This has no effect on that."
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.