Town dissolves Mayfest funding

STRASBURG – After months of deliberation and discussion, the Town Council voted to dissolve the $8,000 Mayfest funding Thursday night.

Councilman Donald “Don” Le Vine motioned to not award the donation to either party, but to dissolve the $8,000 into the town’s general fund. Council passed the motion with a 6-2 vote.

The town had opened the line item for requests from organizations since it had been reallocated from a donation to the Strasburg Chamber of Commerce to a line item reading “Mayfest.”

Only two organizations – the Strasburg Chamber of Commerce and Woodstock-based Business Management and Operations Consulting (BMOC) Group – submitted applications to the town for the line item.

After the meeting, Le Vine said that he contacted each council member – with the exception of Councilman and Chamber President Rich Orndorff – to gauge what they wanted to do following the Oct. 7 work session.

“Everybody volunteered that this is what they wanted, but for different reasons,” Le Vine said.

“In my view, no one voted against Mayfest,” Le Vine said. “This was not a vote for or against Mayfest. This was not a vote against the chamber. There were other reasons.”

Vice Mayor Richard “Rick” Redmon, who voted against the motion, said, “This summer and fall, this council has wasted $8,000 of the taxpayer’s money.”

Redmon added, “The motion I would have chosen to make is that the Town Council be held responsible, and everyone on this council pay $1,000 from their next check to pay for the Mayfest.”

The chamber has maintained that it will work toward hosting Mayfest in Strasburg in 2016. It started a capital fundraising effort as a measure to cover an $8,000 budgetary shortfall.

Following Thursday’s meeting, Orndorff said, “That motion was certainly not in the best interest of the town, not the best interest of the community and it’s not where I grew up.”

Orndorff added that the chamber is still planning to host Mayfest in 2016, despite not receiving the funding.

He noted that the chamber is hoping to cover a $4,000 immediate shortfall in its budget before the end of the year. If the town had awarded the chamber the donation in its budget cycle, the chamber would have received $4,000 in this calendar year.

Orndorff did not say how much the chamber has received in the campaign, but said he is hopeful the chamber will meet its goal.

Le Vine said, “If the chamber decides to hold Mayfest, and organizes it, then I think the council would be receptive … to considering some kind of in-kind services to support.”

Traditionally, the town has provided in-kind services up to $12,000 that cover security and infrastructure needs of the event.

Prior to the vote, Mayor Tim Taylor asked that council and public comments be respectful for any comments that were made during the discussion of Mayfest.

As with prior meetings with Mayfest on the agenda, several of the town’s residents spoke in favor of the town giving the funding to the chamber.

Town resident Kim Bishop urged the council to “think about the best interest of the town and the best interest of what the people of the town want.”

David Lassiter, a town resident, said he feels town officials and residents “need to work together.”

“I feel like we’ve wasted the seven months. I feel like we’ve had a lot of damage, a lot of attitude and a lot of problems that we could have avoided,” Lassiter said.

After the meeting, Taylor also said that the town needs to move on.

“We’re a better community than we’ve shown these last few months,” Taylor said. “It was an emotional topic, it became personal, it was unfortunate, but we gotta move forward.”

Taylor added, “I, personally, would have liked to have seen the chamber get a donation … but it didn’t work out. I hope our chamber can still exist, as they do a lot for our community.”

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