Friday, May 25, 2018
News Roundup

New Port Richey may cut off funding for Chasco, other festivals

NEW PORT RICHEY — A stalemate among City Council members has put funding for nearly all of the city's big events in jeopardy.

In the proposed budget for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1, city finance officials had included $50,000 worth of city services, such as public works and police, for various special events. Most of the support would have gone toward Chasco Fiesta, Main Street Blast and the Holiday Street Parade, according to City Manager John Schneiger.

But by the end of a contentious discussion among council members Tuesday night, that figure was slashed to about $10,000 in services solely to the Holiday Parade. That would leave larger events such as Chasco, Main Street Blast, Cotee River Bike Fest and the Cotee River Seafood and Blues Festival on their own.

"I have a real problem funding these parties when we're laying people off," said Deputy Mayor Rob Marlowe, referring to the proposed layoffs of 15 full-time and part-time employees in next year's budget.

Marlowe had an ally in council member Bob Langford, who also called for zero funding of events, while council member Judy DeBella Thomas and Mayor Bob Consalvo urged continuing support for special events. The mayor singled out Chasco's importance to the city.

"It's just part of our heritage," Consalvo said.

Council member Bill Phillips, who said little during the discussion on special events funding, told the Times on Wednesday he's in favor of finding funding for Chasco and the other festivals once final decisions are made on layoffs.

The board did reach a consensus that the Holiday Parade could not sustain itself, as it's an event geared toward children with few revenue sources, such as corporate sponsorships or alcohol and food sales.

"Let's face it, when you throw a Christmas parade you aren't expecting to make a profit," Marlowe told the Times Wednesday.

But the stalemate between the two factions over the rest of the events led Consalvo to direct Schneiger to provide funding only for the parade. The decision is not yet final, however, as the council will be presented with a final budget next month for approval.

The movement toward cutting numerous special event budgets down to nothing left planners questioning whether the council wants events in the city at all.

"It sounds like the decision of the city is they don't want special events. They don't seem to care how many people these events bring to the city," said Joe Alpine, president of the West Pasco Chamber of Commerce, which puts on the Chasco and Bike Fest events.

As planning was under way last fall for the Chasco 2012 event, it was unclear whether the city would provide any support at all. In previous years, New Port Richey spent about $85,000 to provide police officers, firefighters and public works and parks crews for the 11-day festival, which provides the venue for more than 30 nonprofits to raise money through everything from food booths to the coronation ball. City officials considered cutting off the funding altogether, then compromised on a sponsorship of $40,000 in services.

Chasco organizers scaled the event down to nine days, drew in legions of volunteers and ended up using only $26,000 of that sponsorship during the March festival. The city similarly reduced its support of other special events, which also gathered more volunteers and cut costs to keep their festivals going.

Alpine said if the city provides no services to Chasco next year, the chamber would have to make decisions on how to continue the event.

"We would have to look at everything," he said. "My question is and always has been if the city does this and puts an end to these events, what are they going to do to bring people to downtown New Port Richey? Because they aren't doing anything right now."

Greater New Port Richey Main Street Executive Director Beth Fregger expressed disappointment that Main Street Blast would not at least be provided a sponsorship for services, which allows the organization to put its funds toward purchasing fireworks for the event.

"It's very disappointing. I don't know that this council wants to see headlines that they are against fireworks for July 4th," she said.

Comments
He is accused in 13 Gulfport vehicle burglaries. An ankle bracelet tipped police off.

He is accused in 13 Gulfport vehicle burglaries. An ankle bracelet tipped police off.

GULFPORT ó An 18-year-old man, wearing an ankle bracelet, was arrested Thursday after he was accused of breaking into 13 cars in a one-block radius over the last week.Benjamin Langkamp Jr. faces 13 charges of vehicle burglary ó each of which occurred...
Updated: 24 minutes ago
Warrant issued for Tampa suspect in January slaying

Warrant issued for Tampa suspect in January slaying

TAMPA ó Hillsborough County deputies have identified the suspect in the fatal shooting of a man in January.Deputies are searching for 23-year-old Javon Rakeem Turner, who is wanted in the death of 22-year-old Elijah Moore on Jan. 17.According to depu...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Willy Adames goes back to AAA, leaving Rays with ďa lot to be excited aboutí

Willy Adames goes back to AAA, leaving Rays with ďa lot to be excited aboutí

Willy Adames' first stint in the major leagues ended as planned Thursday night when he was optioned back to Triple-A Durham at the end of his planned three-game cameo filling in for new father Joey Wendle.Adames said going back down was "tough" even ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Steve Yzermanís summer plans: Make the Lightning better

Steve Yzermanís summer plans: Make the Lightning better

TAMPA — Captain Steven Stamkos said the Lightning's window for contending for a Stanley Cup championship is not closing."I think it's wide open," he said one day after the Lightning lost Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final to the Capitals.Ge...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Hurricane hunters to investigate potential tropical system that could drench Tampa Bay

Hurricane hunters to investigate potential tropical system that could drench Tampa Bay

TAMPAó A hurricane hunter plane will investigate the area of low pressure in the Caribbean this afternoon as the likelihood increased that it will become the hurricane seasonís first tropical system.The reconnaissance plane will fly over the area to ...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Fatal pedestrian crash closes SB lanes on U.S. 19 in Hudson

PORT RICHEYó The Florida Highway Patrol is investigating a fatal crash involving a pedestrian at U.S. 19 and New York Avenue, in Hudson. Troopers said a vehicle hit an unidentified pedestrian. One person has died, according to troopers.According to b...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Two accused of turning St. Petersburg test drive into carjacking

Two accused of turning St. Petersburg test drive into carjacking

MADEIRA BEACH ó Two men were arrested Thursday after a carjacking during a test drive led to a crash on Gulf Boulevard less than an hour later, according to the Pinellas County Sheriffís Office. According to deputies, 30-year-old Robert Gajate went t...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Indianapolis 500: How Danica Patrick changed racing

Indianapolis 500: How Danica Patrick changed racing

Tampa's Carlie Yent was at a racing banquet a few years ago when someone asked her to name the driver who influenced her the most.The answer was easy and obvious: Danica Patrick."She was someone I could look up to," Yent said, "and she was the most i...
Updated: 2 hours ago
After Danica Patrick, why arenít there more women in auto racing?

After Danica Patrick, why arenít there more women in auto racing?

If you assumed Danica Patrick's success would lead to a tidal wave of female drivers into racing's top series, you're not alone."I kind of thought the Danica thing would bring out a lot of people, honestly," said Tampa's Megan Rae Meyer, a 21-year-ol...
Updated: 2 hours ago
The Daystarter: Latest on potential tropical system; taking action along dangerous Bayshore Boulevard; Denis Philips talks hurricanes and beer; Memorial Day things to do

The Daystarter: Latest on potential tropical system; taking action along dangerous Bayshore Boulevard; Denis Philips talks hurricanes and beer; Memorial Day things to do

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what to know today.ē Todayís forecast calls for warm and humid weather up until lunch time. Then in the late afternoon thereís an up to 80 percent chance of thundershowers and the rain wonít let up until ...
Updated: 4 hours ago