Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Festivals or Jobs

Some thoughts on last night’s (9/8) special budget commission meeting, more to come.

I asked a question about the funding for festivals in Deerfield Beach - Founder’s Day, Mango Festival, Brazilian Festival, Arts Festival et al.

I wanted to know, simply, if the taxpayers foot the bills or does the city get money back from sponsors and vendors which cover the expenses. If that is true as Vice Mayor Poitier said over and over again, I asked, why is the money in the budget?

The discussion devolved into a Poitier soliloquy on the Mango Festival, with the same theme – it pays for itself. Again I said, I am not asking about a specific festival, but in general, we are not in good times as in the past so how can anyone justify spending money on a festival when employees are not getting raises and jobs are going unfilled. I re-asked, if they pay for themselves, why is the money in the budget?

I found out that the city money does indeed go to festivals, last year the Founder’s Day received about $115,000; and then went on to award grants to different charities. (It would be a lot cheaper for the city to give the charities the money and skip the parade.) Mayor Noland explained that after the parade ran through the 115K they had to pay the rest of the expenses from their income.

I think Founder’s Day is a blast, fun and a great tradition, but I don’t think it is worth spending taxpayer’s money on when we are raising the tax rate. It should pull its own weight, and always did until the recent past when the city started to fund it, no one knew why.

This year, I think we should get whatever city money is used for the parade back before giving it away to charities. The city needs to get out of the business of running festivals and let the festival committees handle it. Most people do not pay their taxes to have them given away. I prefer to choose my own charities.

When I asked about getting sponsors, I was told that last year none were asked to donate.

Founder’s Day and all the other Festivals earn money, and should be able to cover their own expenses, and award what’s left over to their charities, if not, in these lean times, they need to skip a year or cut down the size of the affair; let’s make sure they really raise money before they give it away.

Last year the Brazillian Festival, for the first time, got $50,000, and this year we are funding them again. WHY?

Bill Ganz, held up the accounting sheet for the 2005 Mango Festival, as an example, and said that in 2005, the Mango Festival gave the city back $30,000 and two sponsors donated around $12,000. But, the city wrote checks for north of $400,000 dollars.

Terry Scott, a Mango Festival representative said he “didn’t want to call the Commissioners liars” but then went on to question the figures. He said there weren’t 25,000 at the festival as the BSO estimated but only 17,000 on Saturday night. 17,000 times what I heard as a $15 entry fee on one day is still $225,000, not to mention the income from the vendors. If that is true, where did all that go if the city paid for the BSO and other expenses? With that kind of income how does the festival justify asking the city for money?

Again Ganz pointed to the accounting sheet and said facts don’t lie.

This year’s allocation to the festivals is around $60,000, not even a dollar per resident, but is it one job for a city employee that could be saved.

4 comments:

  1. and who is the #1 promoter of the festivals? MAHANEY!

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  2. I have been a City of Deerfield Beach resident for nearly 40 years and I am furious that any of my tax dollars go toward festivals and parades. there are several people that intend to file a lawsuit against the city for misuse of public funds. Mahaney will be fired shortly and Poitier will be in jail. Noland will continue to beef up her husband's pension because she will benenfit from it as well. NICE!!!!

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