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Categorized | Post Scripts

Is Council putting RFF needs before the community’s needs?

 

Dear Editor,

Councilor Powell’s remarks at a recent council meeting made it glaringly obvious that she believes the recent election has given this council license to put the Red Flannel Festival’s needs before those of our community as a whole.

Being a festival supporter in one’s private life should not translate into giving lobbyist-like preference to them as a member of council.  A recent FOIA of councilors’ messages regarding the festival revealed that:

Councilors have insisted on a timeline for business that fits the festival’s needs over the direction of our Manager.

Councilor Clark assured the festival president that members of the committee—Clark, Nixon, and Conley—were willing to do whatever was necessary to fulfill their demands over the good of the taxpayers: “From our meeting last  week we are prepared to cover work and expenses with a  broad brush.  We  need to determine the best ‘’in-kind –service”, historical/cultural  authorization (state) or other state authorized means (DDA, Brownfield, etc.) to meet the spending for a ‘public purpose’ requirement.  We will do  it.” 

Charges for police coverage have historically been paid by the RFF until this year, after Councilor Conley’s request to waive those costs for 2014. The original charges were $2,531.78, of which $869.95 was refunded on 12/15/2014. That not being satisfactory, the council voted, in April, to refund the full amount—leaving taxpayers footing the bill.

Sheriff Department’s cost estimates alone for this year are upwards to $6000.00. These estimates could go higher depending on the needs of the festival. Estimated future costs to taxpayers for the entire event could end up being $11,000.00 or more because of the “agreement” approved by the council that fundamentally gave away the store. The city is now required to do most of the work that volunteers did last year and we are paying for it.

A few years ago taxpayers had an opportunity to support festivals through a millage. The answer was a resounding NO. It seems this council has usurped taxpayers’ wishes and are using methods bordering on misfeasance to back their own personal interests.

Added to the facts above, when a council member, attending a business seminar with surrounding area officials, shows up wearing a Red Flannel sweatshirt and handing out the Festival’s advertising items, Cedar Springs has a serious problem with its representation.

Kathryn Bremmer, City of Cedar Springs

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