Comptroller wants to tap City reserves for Mumford concert

400-LITZINGER-MUMFORDThe promoter of the two-day Mumford and Sons Gentlemen of the Road Stopover at Francis Field in St Augustine, will pay the city a grand total of $25,000 in commissions on ticket sales from the event — however, the City Comptroller, Mark Litzinger, will ask the city commission for approval to pay twice that amount to the county for “consulting”.

After the commission voted previously to use reserve funds only for capital projects, Litzinger will suggest dipping into the city’s general reserve to front the $50,000 payment; which is earned in full, and due with the acceptance of an interlocal agreement between the City of St Augustine and St Johns County.

At their meeting on August 6, the St Johns County Board of Commissioners will hear a recommendation from the Tourist Development Council to grant the City $129,485 from its own bed tax reserves.

The City sponsored event, which will require overtime salaries for city and county workers, private and public emergency and security personnel, water and solid waste management, and an untested parking and transportation plan to accommodate 25,000 ticketholders, was suggested and committed in a whirlwind — without consensus or public discussion and without funds to cover hundreds-of-thousands of dollars in expected (and unexpected) operating shortfalls.

From the 30,000′ level, the interlocal agreement, if approved by the City on Monday and the County on August 6, makes the county’s Cultural Events Division manager, Ryan Murphy, available to the city to help pull off the event. Murphy has enjoyed success in coordinating some big names, in small concerts, since he assumed responsibilities at the Amphitheatre. The city lacks that expertise — even though that fact didn’t slow down their commitment to host the international event.

Murphy, who is a county employee, has already assisted the city on this event; he was the speaker who presented the city’s funding application to the Tourist Development Council last month.

On ground level, the interlocal agreement will try to put some of the toothpaste back into the tube by seeking Murphy’s further consultation and advice in producing the actual event — while reserving the final decision to do whatever city government thinks is best.

Specifically the agreement asks for help coordinating and providing public and community relations as well as public outreach, as specified in the city’s communications plan.

If accepted by the city and county commissions, the county will:

• Assist the City in gathering and coordinating Event information to share with and disseminate to applicable state and local agencies; local neighborhood associations; nonprofits organizations; business associations; and volunteers.

• Assist the City in coordinating localized marketing and public relations efforts related to the Event.

• Assist in producing and coordinating presentations providing Event details.

• Assist in producing and coordinating the use of festival documentation; economic impact study tools; and Event programming and information guides.

Litzinger and City Manager John Regan say that they need the county for administrative consultation and financial management assistance, as well; including:

• Assist the City in identifying Event contractual needs and coordinating its contract review.
• Assist the City in Event budget review for needed goods/services.
• Upon request by the City, assist in vendor negotiations related to operation and production of Event activities.
• Consult with the City regarding management of City supported ancillary activities and offsite operations regarding budgetary and revenue issues related to such activities and operations.

Finally, the $50,000 also includes site operations and management consultation, as follows:

• Assist the City in coordinating satellite parking; shuttle busing; professional services; and ancillary activities associated with or sponsored by the City, including security, fencing, field operations, box office ticketing, traffic control and vendor services.
• Assist the City in coordinating onsite and offsite operations including professional vendor services, staffing, catering, hospitality, and equipment rental, lighting and audio.

If you plan to attend, the City Commission Meeting will be held on Monday, July 22, 2013, beginning at 5:00 p.m. in the Alcazar Room of the City Hall Building located at 75 King Street in St Augustine. You can watch the meeting live on Comcast Government Television channel 3. New safety measures will require attendees to empty the contents of their pockets, subject their bags to search, and submit to an electronic frisk performed by uniformed police using handheld wands upon entry, or re-entry, to the meeting room. Allow sufficient additional time to accomplish this new safety measure.


Let us know what you think >>