BCTF delays decision on fireworks due to contract uncertaintyWith the future of Buffalo City Tourism Foundation in question and the expiration of its contract with the city of Jamestown drawing near, a motion for BCTF to fund fireworks on Independence Day failed at Thursday’s meeting.
By: Kari Lucin, The Jamestown Sun
With the future of Buffalo City Tourism Foundation in question and the expiration of its contract with the city of Jamestown drawing near, a motion for BCTF to fund fireworks on Independence Day failed at Thursday’s meeting.
The BCTF’s contract with the city of Jamestown ends Dec. 31, and a new contract has yet to be signed due to potential legal issues.
“The question here has nothing to do with the fireworks, which are wonderful, for the Fourth of July,” said BCTF member Tanea Clocksene. “… if we don’t get the funding for 2013, we still have January, February and March to pay salaries.”
Because BCTF members were not certain the organization will continue existing past Dec. 31, they were reluctant to agree to pay for a project they may not be able to fund — even though they stated they approved of the project itself.
“We’re the ones being held hostage at this point,” said Beth Dewald, a BCTF board member.
According to BCTF President Dave Smette, the group began working on its contract in January, and submitted it to the City Council in April.
Concerns about the contract and the legality of the BCTF’s organizational structure were first brought up by Mayor Katie Andersen at a BCTF Executive Board meeting on Oct. 19.
At that time, Andersen said Jamestown’s city attorney had found case law indicated that the way BCTF was formed could potentially be illegal, and that more investigation needed to be done on the issue before any contract was signed.
“It shouldn’t take this long. It shouldn’t take a year to do a contract,” Smette said. “If there were questions on it, it should have been answered back in May, June.”
He said he was concerned that if the BCTF became a city department, it could affect projects that take place outside of the city, in the rest of Stutsman County.
“I don’t think the City Council is necessarily against us. I think one or two members of the City Council might have issues with us,” said Alden Kollman, BCTF president-elect, who emphasized that the city seemed to have no objection funding the BCTF with the same amount of money it had received in the past.
Kollman said he believed the fireworks could be funded with reserve funds.
“I’m hesitant to do things that are a power play, and that’s what this essentially is,” Kollman said.
“No, it’s not a power play. This is the black and white of it,” Clocksene replied.
The BCTF would have paid about $6,000 to $7,000 for the fireworks, had a motion for a contract for the fireworks been passed. However, it was not approved.
Several board members noted they felt the fireworks were a “wonderful” project and that they were “all in favor” of it, but given the situation could not approve spending money they might not get.
A motion to provide funding for the fireworks pending a contract failed.
Sun reporter Kari Lucin can be reached at 701-952-8453 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org