Thursday, June 22, 2006

July 4 Concert Rejected

The City Council shot down a proposed July 4 concert Wednesday (June 21, 2006), with headliners Floetry and Howard Hewitt, by refusing to approve a $55,000 budget transfer to fund the event.

Council members were displeased on Monday (June 19, 2006) that Recreation Director Dave Wynn could not provide complete budget details for the city’s July 4th celebration.

The event has traditionally included a daytime parade with a concert and fireworks in the evening. But the city has lost the support of surrounding towns for the event and is now mounting the parade and related events on its own.

The council previously voted down the use of more than $100,000 in Urban Enterprise Zone funds for a concert at Cedar Brook Park.

The proposed transfer would have used unexpended funds from the Inspections Division to pay for the concert. Promoter Hassan Sharif told the council Monday the two performers had committed to the date, but needed written confirmation from the city regarding payment.

On Wednesday (June 21, 2006) the council first voted down the budget transfer, then rejected a resolution that would have paid Sharif’s firm, HSP Inc., $51,850 to serve as “marketing and event planner” for the concert.

The council approved spending $10,500 for fireworks at Cedar Brook Park on July 4, to be provided by the renowned firm of Garden State Fireworks.

Council approval Wednesday of an ordinance establishing an Independence Day Committee will only kick in next year, Council President Ray Blanco said.

Meanwhile, Wynn and an ad hoc committee are putting together this year’s July 4th celebration.

Wynn said he has 34 entrants for the parade, including an 80-piece band from Washington, DC. Wynn said the Plainfield Special Improvement District had agreed to pay for the band’s transportation costs.

Council concerns included knowing the total cost of the event, even the city Public Works and police expenses for cleanup and security.

“Someone should know how much it is going to cost us,” Councilman Don Davis said. “Someone should know how much it cost last year.”

City Administrator Carlton McGee said costs were “scattered all over the place” and made a pitch for a “budget function” approach to the data.

Councilman Elliott Simmons said, “This is the 83rd parade - how did you do the other 82?”

Since support from other towns waned and then ceased, the city has taken various approaches to organizing the popular event. On Monday, Wynn said the Recreation Division had nothing to do with last year's parade, because the city had hired a consultant for $20,000.

But council members chided Wynn for not having all the facts about this year’s plans.

“It’s two weeks before the event,” Councilwoman Linda Carter said.

--Bernice Paglia


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