Mayor Jacob Frey cannot receive consulting services from the Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce after a City Council vote Thursday fell one short of the number he needed to accept the gift.

The chamber had intended to loan a staffer to the mayor's office for several weeks in hopes that she could advise the staff on how to improve their efficiency. The mayor's office told council member in a memo that staff hoped to receive recommendations on how to improve their scheduling process and the way they conduct meetings.

Katie Lauer, a spokeswoman for the mayor's office, said in a statement that it was "puzzled" by the vote.

"What's the problem with receiving help to improve administrative processes like calendaring?" Lauer said. "If any council member were to receive free advice on such assistance, the mayor would be supportive."

During a meeting Thursday morning, some council members raised concerns about the arrangement, noting that the chamber had supported a ballot initiative last fall that granted the mayor more power over the city's daily operations.

"I think that indicates a very clear political interest," said Council Member Robin Wonsley Worlobah.

Under state law and the city's ethics rules, Frey's office was required to disclose that it would be receiving the free services and needed "yes" votes from nine council members to accept the gift. On Thursday, only eight gave their support.

Wonsley Worlobah and fellow council members Elliott Payne and Jason Chavez voted against the arrangement. Council Members Andrew Johnson and Aisha Chughtai were absent.

City Clerk Casey Carl told the council that the city's ethics code allows the acceptance of "services that assist an official in the performance of their official duties" and that "would not include political or campaign-related activities."

Council Member Jeremiah Ellison, referring to that advice and similar statements earlier in the week from a city attorney, said he agreed it was important for the council to serve as a "watchdog" on these types of issues. But he said he wasn't inclined to assume upfront that there would be ethical violations.

"I think that the point is well taken that, whenever you have an organization that does both sort of clerical work and services and political work, it's important to make sure that there is not any kind of bleed-over," he said.

Jonathan Weinhagen, the chamber's president and CEO, said Thursday that he was "grateful that a strong majority of the council saw this for exactly what it is, a good faith offer of help with technical expertise to the city."

"It was nothing more, nothing less," he said.

It's too early to tell whether Frey's office might revisit the issue. Weinhagen said the chamber would likely seek another way to give the mayoradvice — such as by submitting a memo — and would encourage other organizations to provide feedback as well.