OSWEGO, NY â€“ Members of the Common Council and Harborfestâ€™s board vowed to keep the lines of communication open as they plan for the 2011 and 2012 festivals.
The two sides meet at City Hall Tuesday night to discuss what type of funds the festival would require in the coming years and what the city could do to assist.
There was some dissension earlier this year when the council was asked to approve a large chunk of overtime for the public works, fire and police departments for Harborfest.
â€œWe are currently planning our 2011 festival and 2012 as well,â€ said John Scardella, president of the Harborfest board of directors. â€œThe 2012 fest will the 25th anniversary of Harborfest and also being the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812.â€
With the governor recently cutting state funds that were earmarked to assist with the 200th anniversary, it is important for Harborfest to get a handle on what it is going to do as soon as possible, he pointed out.
The board is formulating Harborfestâ€™s budget for the coming year; the budget comes due in October, Scardella explained.
â€œThe immediate question is will the funding for 2011 be the same as it was in 2010?â€ Scardella said.
Mike Myers, Second Ward, said the city might be able to tighten up somewhat on the fire and police coverage it provides the festival.
Perhaps it could be staffed a little bit differently, he noted.
â€œI think the city could tighten its belt on that part and that would bring some of the costs down,â€ the councilor said. â€œI would like to see Harborfest move forward. But I think there is some belt tightening that needs to be done.â€
Councilor Cathy Santos, Third Ward, asked if the festival received any grant funding or other support.
Harborfest doesnâ€™t exactly fit the criteria for music festivals or arts festivals according to many grant providers, Scardella pointed out.
The rains this past Harborfest diminished revenues for the festival, Tom Van Schaack, executive director, said.
â€œWeâ€™re hoping for a break even year,â€ Scardella said. â€œTo us, a break even year is a good year.â€
Harborfest has made several cuts over the years trying to reduce expanses, Van Schaack noted.
They have gone from a staff of 11, nine most recently, to a staff of 1.5 currently.
â€œWe have really cut staff to the bare bones,â€ Scardella added. â€œIn my opinion, that has hurt us because we havenâ€™t been able to get out there and try to secure those extra dollars and sponsorships.â€
Councilor Shawn Walker, Fourth Ward, asked how Harborfest brings in money to the city. If a vendor goes back to his hometown and pays sales tax there, the Port City doesnâ€™t get that money, he noted.
â€œIâ€™m hearing this and I want to know,â€ he said.
â€œSales tax generated in Oswego County is supposed to be credited to Oswego County,â€ Gay Williams, city attorney, explained.
â€œIâ€™d like to see that in numbers because I donâ€™t believe that it is working that way,â€ Walker replied. â€œI really donâ€™t.â€
â€œAre we looking at the same size festival (for 2011) or will you look at what happened this year and make some cuts?â€ asked Councilor Ron Kaplewicz, Seventh Ward.
â€œThe board met three weeks ago and weâ€™ve begun that discussion â€“ what will the festival look like in 2011,â€ Scardella said. â€œWe are going under the perception that weâ€™ll have the same sized festival.â€
Councilor Connie Cosemento, First Ward, said it would help if there was a way for the festival to address â€œthe free drinkers in Breitbeck (Park).â€
â€œYou can change the ordinance if you want to. But right know you can drink (alcohol) in Breitbeck Park 365 days a year, 24 hours a day,â€ Police Chief Mike Dehm pointed out. â€œYou only need a permit when you have a large gathering of people.â€
â€œThen that is something for the council to think about,â€ Cosemento said.
Scardella pointed out that it would be difficult to enforce / control something like that with upwards of 20,000 people or more at the concerts.
There needs to be more communication between the city and Harborfest officials so things can be better coordinated this year, Kaplewicz said.
The two parties werenâ€™t on the same page as the 2010 fest evolved, Santos agreed.
She suggested the board keep the city informed each step along the way, â€œand not come to us in May or June with an agenda item for the council to make a decision on with no background â€¦ that would help us to make our decision, would hold us accountable for why weâ€™re making the decision and better help you to know whatâ€™s coming down the road.â€
Scardella agreed the board would keep the city abreast of its actions and would update the public works, fire and police departments following the next board meeting and beyond.