While Ribfest is a go for this week at Betts Park, finances continue to be an issue.
At its meeting Monday night, Warren City Council reviewed, and ultimately rejected, a letter from Warren County Chamber of Business and Industry President Jim Decker that asked the city to waive all fees for the use of Betts Park.
The letter indicated that the greatest challenge to Ribfest is sponsorship, emphasizing that sponsorship would typically happen up to six months ago but didn't, placing WCCBI in "a very untenable financial situation." The letter called on the city to be a sponsor of the event by waiving the fees.
Much consideration about ribs
Ribfest judging raffle winners, from left, front clockwise, Tom Radecki, Matt Andersen, Torrey Frederick, Doris Nuhfer and Paul Genis evaluate this year’s offerings, sponsor judges, from left, back clockwise, Kevin Hall,Mary Hagan Double, Jenny Ingrao and Brian Ferry also rated the fare on Friday at Betts Park.
The letter also claimed that the costs of the park are a "significant portion of the expenditure of the event." Acting City Manager Mary Ann Nau said that the fees, which have yet to be paid, total $1,295.50.
Councilman Sam Harvey asked what the costs would be of the actual services provided. Nau said that overtime for two police officers on Friday and Saturday evening would be $1,006.94. For the Department of Public Works, "it's hard to say what the costs will be," Nau said, but noted DPW costs for the Fourth of July parade totaled $852.
Councilman John Lewis pointed out there was a $600 electric bill from last year,. Nau said electric costs would be billed after the event.
Councilman Chris Park asked what WCCBI is charging for sponsorship. Nau indicated that they have a three-tier ladder with gold at $1,000, silver at $500 and bronze at $300. Park pointed out that Betts Park is used frequently for events and that he didn't want to single out WCCBI by waiving fees, sending the message that WCCBI and Ribfest are more important than other events that also benefit the city. "(I) don't want to set that precedent," he said, suggesting that the work provided by the police department and DPW could be considered sponsorship.
Councilman Dr. Howard Ferguson asked Police Chief Raymond Zydonik if the event could be covered without overtime. "I guess it's possible to reduce it," Zydonik said. "In the past we've done it. We can have guys cover the street and respond as needed."
But there's a downfall. "If we don't have somebody down there and there is an issue, I see some liability there," Zydonik said.
Ferguson asked if there are other alternatives, such as the use of constables or fire police. Zydonik said that the constables would want to be paid but that would "probably have to come through the chamber." He noted that the only assistance fire police could provide would be traffic control.
"I would like to think the letter is premature," Lewis said. "They feel it's going to be a deficit to support it. I would rather see what happens. I have no trouble waiting until the event is done, as we do for the electric, and discussing fees."
Council Vice President Maurice Cashman said the WCCBI will make a profit on the event and Harvey was quick to note, "They want to make more profit by having the city be a sponsor. It's a dead letter."
"I think it's too short of a notice," Councilman Jim Zavinski said.
"When you're deciding to do something, you assess the costs. If you come up short...this is one of those things that has been well attended," Lewis said.
Cashman said Ribfest is sponsorship driven to cover costs.
When the floor was opened for action, no motion was made.