City Runs Out Of Funds To Provide Police Fire Services To Festivals
By Susan Stabley
Festival organizers will have to pay for city services for their events until the new fiscal year begins in October because the Miami City Commission has drained its budget to provide the services.
City Commission Chairman Johnny Winton said the city would revamp its system for financing special events to ensure that money will be available to those who apply later in the year.
"The system we have is awful," he said at Thursday’s regular meeting at City Hall.
The commission has a $500,000 budget to provide services, which it does on a first-come, first-served basis, said Lina Blanco, the city’s special-events coordinator. The commission spent all that money this year by May 8.
In the past, the city would overspend the budget to provide services to festivals later in the year, but City Administrator/City Manager Joe Arriola mandated an end to that practice, Ms. Blanco said.
She said the city is working on a plan to provide grants for festival organizers instead of providing services for free. She said the new plan would require festival organizers to apply to a committee for a grant and provide documentation the group is a non-profit organization.
Maggie Bellabe, event coordinator for the Roots and Culture Festival scheduled for June 22 in Little Haiti, had appeared at the meeting to seek services. The city waived nearly $5,000 in administrative and permit fees for the festival, which is in its ninth year, but said there are no funds left in the budget to provide police, fire and waste services.
Ms. Bellebe said festival organizers will pay about $20,000 for city services during the festival, which was cut from two days to one.
Ms. Blanco said all festival organizers will have to pay for city services through September but the city will be able to waive applicable administrative and permit fees.
Later in the meeting, the city agreed to take $5,000 from Commissioner Tomás Regalado’s district budget to pay for cost overruns at the Goombay Festival in Coconut Grove earlier this month. The festival drew 400,000 people, double what organizers had expected.