DARLINGTON – The Darlington City Council meeting was held Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017 at the City Council meeting room.
At a previous Darlington Finance and Personnel Committee meeting Alder Dave Gough made a motion to remove the traditional $4,000 donation to the Canoe Festival Committee. The reason given is that the Canoe Fest did not request the donation prior to budget time and that the Canoe Fest has a checking account balance of nearly $60,000. The motion was seconded by Alder Cindy Corley and passed by a vote of 3-1, with Alder Don Osterday voting no.
Kyle Masbruch, Canoe Fest president, was first to address the council saying, “I want to clear the air on what our checking balance is and why we still need the support of the city for Canoe Fest. Over the last three years we started gaining a profit through ticket sales and Friday night entertainment during Canoe Fest. The account stands at $59,000. Last year the expenses for the festival were nearly $49,000. If Canoe Fest would have been a week later last year, during a flood, we wouldn’t have had nearly as a successful year. If we a have a fail year, we don’t want to see the sponsoring organizations having to kick in extra money to make sure we have a positive number bank account.”
Masbruch continued, “Our accountant has recommended to us that we have at least one year of expense money in the account, in case we do have a bad year. This is the longest running festival that Darlington has, we don’t want to see it die, we want to see it grow.” Kyle McCarville, Canoe Festival treasurer, added, “The reason we’re hear is to answer any questions the council has. We understand that Cindy Corley is the city’s representative on the Canoe Fest committee and is addressing any questions you have, but if there is anything she was unable to answer, we’d be happy to help with that. We want to see where the city stands in support of the Canoe Festival.”
Gough stated, “I take exception with your comment about us not supporting the Canoe Fest. Whether we give you any dollars towards the festival, we are supporting the Canoe Festival. The police Department puts in a tremendous amount of overtime, public works puts in overtime, park and rec puts in overtime. The city is investing taxpayers dollars far beyond that $4,000. You didn’t come to request the money which is standard.”
Gough then went into history, “Thirty-two years ago I was president of the Canoe Festival. At that time we filed for incorporation papers. We tried very hard to live within our means. We visited all the towns around us selling tickets and poster ads. A few years we ended up in the red, and we had to go back to the sponsoring organizations for another monetary donation. We decided to ask the city for support, the first couple years we were denied. Eventually we were given a $2,000 donation for the first two years, as I recall. Now it seems for the last few years the Canoe Fest has generated income in excess of expenses by a considerable amount and maybe this council should have known, a few years ago, that the Canoe Fest didn’t really need the city’s donation. Since the Canoe Fest has $60,000 in your account and since the city taxpayers pays the police, public works and park and rec departments for extra hours worked. I fail to see why we should make a $4,000 donation to the Canoe Fest. I made the motion to not give you $4,000 and I’m not changing my mind.”
McCarville answered, “Thank you for that. It goes without saying that we don’t thank the city, law enforcement, public works and park and rec enough. We do acknowledge everything they do. A sheet was handed out to the council showing the finances of the Canoe Fest. The last three years have been successful. Ticket sales have doubled in the last three years and Madison County has brought in a profit. With that being stated we are putting that money back into the festival to make it better. We are on a newly created Festival Committee that the Chamber is working on. The Festival Committee, through our financial contributions, will spend money improving the city’s festival grounds.”
Osterday added his point of view. “I’m in support of donating $4,000. It is the major celebration for the city. I think the city has a responsibility to support that. They have finally gotten into a position where they can make changes to Canoe Fest and the Festival Grounds. I think a lot of people thought Canoe Fest had gotten pretty stale, and that’s just natural, it’s been going on for a long time. Trying to do new things costs money, I think they need the money. I think they will invest the money that will continue to improve Canoe Fest and if we don’t I think Canoe Fest could die.”
Corley said, “We have made improvements to, ah, the festival grounds and camp grounds with electrical hook ups.”
Osterday continued, “I’m talking about improvements to the festival itself. It costs money to run a festival. The parade for instance, it costs a lot of money to have a parade. If they wanted to bring in more bands in the parade, bands cost a lot of money. If you want to see Canoe Fest flourish and continue to grow and improve, the city needs to support Canoe Fest. What I find interesting, for many years you (Corley) were the one sitting here asking for the donation and now you voted against. I’d like to see us reinstate the $4,000.”
Corley stated, “But it was always the officers that came to a meeting and request the support from the city.” Osterday answered, “There were years when you (Corley) missed the deadline too, and we took care of it because we thought it was worthwhile. Well, I think this is worthwhile.”
Masbruch stated, “This is my first year as president and this is the first time I’ve heard of the requirement of putting in a request. Cindy never mentioned anything about having to make a request. You can put that on me, it was my responsibility. If I would have known about it I would have taken care of it.”
Masbruch continued, “We are spending more on the fireworks show this year. We are up to $10,000 for fireworks and the $4,000 we received from the city was always our down payment on the fireworks.”
Alder Steve Pickett proposed a compromise. Pickett’s motion, “I make a motion to donate $850 (the amount for the city to be a sponsoring organization) and we’ll put the balance ($3,150) into a carryover account and if you need it, say you have a bad year, the money will be there. Canoe Fest is a good promotion for the city. The motion was approved.
In Other Business:
•Approved the 2018 City of Darlington budget advertisement.
•Discussed the assessment values for the city. The entire 2017 assessed value for the City of Darlington is $102,882,500, which is a decrease of $971,000 from 2016.
•Approved paying city, direct deposit, water department, sewer department and library vouchers for Sept. 2017 in the amount of $461,086.
Jeremy Williams, Public Works Director and Plan Commission member, presented a sign request for The Darlington Family Restaurant (formerly Riverwood Restaurant) and stated it didn’t get on the Plan Commission agenda in time for approval by the Plan Commission. He wondered, in the future, if requests of building changes (including signs, paint schemes, etc.) would only need the Darlington Chamber to okay the requests.
Breunig said, “That’s kind of defeating the purpose of the Planning Commission.” Williams answered, “The procedure for approval is it goes to Chamber and gets approved and then comes to Plan Commission to approve. I don’t think anything the Chamber has approved has not been approved by Plan Commission.”
Dave Meister stated, “ I think the Chamber and Plan Commission have two different missions. The Plan Commission has state statues to consider. It seems like a futile exercise that doesn’t benefit anything. But if you have a situation that has materiality to, that’s when we need to meet.
Williams brought up an example from last month where a business’ paint scheme was approved by the Chamber and by the time it came to the Plan Commission the building was already painted. Osterday, Plan Commission member said, “You bring up a good example that happened last month, if they would have painted that a really ugly color. I wouldn’t have been opposed to say ‘I’m sorry you didn’t have permission to paint it bright green, you need to repaint with approval.”
A Plan Commission meeting was scheduled Monday, Nov. 13 at 6:00 p.m. to accommodate The Darlington Family Restaurant (who wanted to put up the sign by Nov. 15). Update: At the Monday, Nov. 13 meeting the Plan Commission approved the sign.
In other Plan Commission business: The committee approved a paint scheme and/or construction to the façade for a building located at 408 main Street, owned by Maria del Carmen Cordero. Cordero stated it used to be a Mexican Store and right now she didn’t know if it will be a restaurant or an office.