Follansbee talks Community Days, budget

FOLLANSBEE – Funding for the Follansbee Community Days festival and the city’s budget for the 2014-15 fiscal year were discussed by City Council Monday.

Council allocated $25,000 for the three-day festival last year, but there was some discussion of reducing the amount, citing declining revenue for the city and rising costs to provide city services.

Fifth Ward Councilwoman Kathy Santoro suggested maintaining the $25,000 allocation, but other council members suggested cutting it, including possibly committing only to a match of private contributions raised by the festival’s volunteer committee.

Donations from area businesses have been a major source of funding for the event, which had a budget of $65,000 last year.

Many of the private donations go to nightly entertainment during the three-day festival that has included nationally known rock and roll groups from the 1950s and ’60s as well as area bands and singers with a variety of styles.

Last year the committee lowered its request for city funds from $30,000, the amount it had received in earlier years, citing tougher economic times for the city.

For many years the committee didn’t need to use all of the city funds. but in August council agreed to use $16,278 from its Urban Development Action Grant fund to pay outstanding bills for the festival.

The committee later returned $4,000 of that amount after holding a drawing for a Notre Dame football helmet signed by Lou Holtz.

Mayor David Velegol Jr. said the overrun was due partly to upgrades to the electrical system powering vendors at the festival’s new location in the Follansbee Park parking lot.

Velegol said the upgrades were somewhat costly this year but ultimately will save the city money in the future.

The Community Days committee also had additional expenses related to setup for a mobile version of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Follansbee Community Days will be held until July 11-13, but each year organizers sign performers in January. Council has been asked to approve contracts for bands appearing the festival at its next regular meeting at 7 p.m. Monday at the City Building.

In other business, City Manager John DeStefano said he’s prepared a tentative budget for the city for the upcoming fiscal year but is awaiting word from how the Affordable Care Act will affect the cost to provide insurance for the city’s employees.

DeStefano said it’s likely that a special meeting will be held later this month to consider the budget, which must be submitted to the state by March 28.