Council divided on funding Niles Bluegrass FestivalPublished 7:36pm Monday, May 13, 2013
The Niles City Council was divided on the issue of whether or not to provide funding for the upcoming Niles Bluegrass Festival.
Ultimately, the council voted 5-3 Monday in favor of providing $2,900 to the 11th annual festival, which is set for May 30 through June 2 at Niles Riverfront Park.
Councilmen Bill Weimer, David Mann and Scott Clark voted against the measure with Clark saying the city should not be throwing away money at festivals.
“This has been going on for 10 years, 11 years, and I think that Mr. Majerek should be able to run this without taxpayer money,” Clark said.
“We cannot continue deficit spending — that’s all there is to it.”
Speaking in support of the motion to fund, councilman Dan VandenHeede said the festival attracts many people to Niles that would not come otherwise.
“It puts us on the map — it really does — it brings in people from all over,” he said. “To me, it’s a fairly small amount that goes a long way in promoting our community.”
Mann said he would vote against the motion because the council voted last year to strip funding from the Niles Riverfest and the Four Flags Area Apple Festival.
“In my opinion, we should be fair to the Riverfest and the Apple Festival in saying that, if we are going to cut funding for one, we are going to cut it for all,” Mann said. “We have had to make serious cuts over the past few years to our police and fire departments, and I feel that funding these festivals while cutting those funds sends the wrong message.”
Tom Majerek said the city’s $2,900 represents about one-eighth of the festival’s total budget. The council gave $2,500 to the festival last year.
“I think that it (the festival) does our downtown and the town as a whole a lot of good,” said councilman Tim Skalla.