Town discusses Mayfest funding proposals

STRASBURG – Members of the Strasburg Town Council and town residents discussed two proposals for future events that would make use of the $8,000 “Mayfest” line item on Wednesday.

The two proposals are from Jorge Gutierrez, chief executive officer of Woodstock-based Business Management and Operations Consulting (BMOC) Group, and the Strasburg Chamber of Commerce.

Town Manager Ryan Spitzer said that he has spoken with both parties and that the town will negotiate more specific terms from whichever group is awarded the funding following the council’s Oct. 15 meeting.

The BMOC group submitted an 18-page proposal to the town, which documents an outline for an event to be organized and held either late in July or in the fall of 2016 with a projected budget of just under $20,000.

If the BMOC group is awarded the funding, then it would possibly face a shortfall of more than $11,000 in its projected event budget.

The group’s plan also calls for fundraising by reaching out to local businesses and organizations to cover the remaining $11,000 of the budget, which would cover most of the event costs – from marketing and insurance to permits and entertainment.

The plan submitted by Gutierrez also differs from the chamber’s plan in that it calls for potentially charging a fee for the event.

The chamber is maintaining that it will hold Mayfest in 2016 – similar to how it’s been run in previous years. According to the chamber’s plan, the $8,000 “Mayfest” line item would be used to offset the costs of entertainment and children’s activities.

Several town residents spoke at Wednesday’s meeting, with some questioning the notion of transparency and how BMOC Group would plan to use the “Mayfest” funding.

Town resident Jessica Vincent said, “I really think that we need to have things spelled out. I think Mr. Gutierrez should do that.”

Gutierrez, speaking at Wednesday’s meeting on behalf of the BMOC Group, said, “If the (Strasburg) Chamber of Commerce gets awarded this money, then they will do a great job, but they will keep the status quo.”

Gutierrez added, “If I’m awarded these monies, I will bring change. I will do something different.”

Addressing questions about the transparency, Gutierrez said, “Transparency is something that will be provided to you, on a recurring basis, as we make or plans, make our decisions.”

He added, “No monies will be spent that you guys don’t know anything about.”

Town resident Cindy Racey also expressed numerous concerns about the BMOC group’s plan, including the possibility of an event fee.

“I don’t have to pay to go to Mayfest, unless I have a child with me,” Racey said. “Now we have an event where our citizens are going to have to put money out to pay to do the festival that’s been free for 33 years.”

Racey also raised concerns about the BOMC’s plan to raise the funds to cover the possible shortfall in the event’s proposed budget.

Racey said, “I understand (Gutierrez is) free to ask for donations, what I’m saying is, why would we want a festival that’s going to burden our businesses, when we could have a festival that’s gonna profit our businesses.”

John Massoud also spoke at the Wednesday meeting and expressed support for the funding to be awarded to the chamber.

“My personal experience leads me to believe that the Chamber of Commerce is the right organization to fund Mayfest,” Massoud said.

Council will make a decision on the “Mayfest” line item at its Oct. 15 meeting.

Contact staff writer Kevin Green at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or kgreen@nvdaily.com