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Finances 'not a pretty picture'

Editor's note: Due to some confusion about numbers some of the figures in the print version of this story and in an earlier version posted online were incorrect.

With an approximately $25,600 deficit to deal with, the Castle Rock-Empire-Eureka-Farmington Areawide Enhancement Group has turned to the city of Farmington for a little financial help.

The deficit is a combination of dollars lost from the 2008 Rambling River Days celebration, and the 2009 Dew Days celebration.

Organizer Maribeth Vanderbeck said every number for this year's city celebration was approved by the CEEF board of directors, and was even about $13,000 less than originally planned. Still, a lack of attendance -- particularly in the beer tent -- put a huge damper on the Dew Days tab,

Going in to the June celebration, Dew Days planners estimated $85,715 in revenues, but they only received $24,327. On the expenditure side, the committee estimated $68,296, but spent $55,943.

The revenue shortage caused a $31,600 loss for the 2009 celebration. Some of the bills were paid between July 1 and the council meeting, leaving the outstanding $25,600 deficit.

"We were expecting a lot more people in the beer tent," Vanderbeck said Tuesday. "We were expecting 3,000 in the beer tent, but really had 290."

The estimates were made based on last year's success, when the beer tent made $17,000 in four hours. But that was not the case this year. The light turnout caused a shortfall of $14,490 for band expenses, and another $16,866 shortage in the beer tent itself, where only eight kegs of beer were sold, compared to the 70 that were planned.

Vanderbeck is not sure what the future holds for any type of city celebration. Nor, for that matter, does she know if she will continue to try to organize it. The people who did attend the event, she said, had a great time, but the attendance was simply too low.

One complaint that surfaced several times over the past couple of years has been that people do not like to pay for event buttons to get access to the actual event. Those buttons, though, are a source of income that is meant to offset some of the associated costs of running the celebration, she said.

"If you don't have people coming in, that's what the buttons are for," Vanderbeck said. "It's no different than any other event in any other community. I just don't know if Dew Days is something the community wants."

According to Vanderbeck, all of the numbers for the Dew Days celebration were laid out for the CEEF board just a few days before the event began. At that time, she said, she asked what would happen if the event was not a success. The feedback she received was positive -- that the event would be fine.

Asking for help?

On July 13, city administrator Peter Herlofsky presented city council members with a copy of the Dew Days report. In his memo, Herlofsky writes, "It is not a pretty picture."

According to the memo, the council was supposed to discuss options to "best deal with this operation's deficit," at this week's meeting. However, Herlofsky received additional information Monday, but was not able to get it to councl for their consideration before the meeting.

On Tuesday, Herlofsky said the information received covers the deficit -- and possible efforts to correct it -- in more detail, but that he had not had the opportunity to go through and determine what still needed to be taken care of. And, he said, neither Vanderbeck nor CEEF have made specific requests for financial assistance to himself or the council.

"The problem won't go away," he said. "We want to make sure we have looked at all the options."

The issue may or may not come back at the next council meeting, but Herlofsky thought it would still be addressed before the end of August.