By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — When the music stopped at LaconiaFest, the city found itself $63,130 out of pocket when the promoters of concert series skipped town without paying their share of the cost of safety and emergency services.
City Manager Scott Myers suggested drawing on the fire stabilization account, which has a current balance of $145,191, to defray the deficit. However, Mayor Ed Engler suggested instead tapping into the Motorcycle Week account, which represents the difference between the revenues collected and the expenses incurred during the rally. Since the account was established in 2007, it has accrued a balance of $117,822.
By turning to the Motorcycle Week account , Engler said, "We can look the taxpayers in the eye because it won't cost the taxpayers a dime."
When the Special Event Review Committee granted LaconiaFest its permit it required the promoters to escrow $309,830 to defray the cost of police, fire and code enforcement services. The amount was based on projected attendance of 10,000 to 15,000 on the first Saturday; 30,000 on Sunday; 8,000 to 10,000 on Monday and Tuesday; 30,000 on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday; 10,000 to 15,000 on the last Saturday; and 2,000 to 5,000 on Sunday. These numbers dated from April, when the promoters expected to book more performers of the caliber and appeal of Steven Tyler, Bret Michaels and Ted Nugent, who ultimately headlined the festival.
When they failed to book the acts they expected and advance ticket sales fell short of projections, City Manager Scott Myers adjusted the amount, asking that $90,000 be deposited by June 1. The date passed without payment. Myers halved the request for $90,000 on the understanding that it would be applied to the first weekend of the rally. Tyler Glover, the principal of Vesslar Global Partners LLC of West Jefferson, North Carolina, the parent company of LaconiaFest, paid $35,000, but no more.
Myers said that he asked to meet regularly with the organizers to determine the amount required on a day-to-day basis in light of advance ticket sales and estimates of tickets sold at the gate. He noted that projecting attendance became more difficult when the promoters stopped charging for admission and deeply discounted the price of tickets.
Myers told the City Council that he sent invoices to Glover and Mike Trainor, of the M2 Management Group, the principal promoters, in an effort to recover the city's costs.
Finance Director Donna Woodaman said Tuesday that she expects to close the books on Motorcycle Week in the next two weeks.
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