Community events made their way back on the Port Allen City Council agenda after Mayor Richard Lee pulled them, saying the Council should fund the events it denied last year before creating new ones.
Community Development Coordinator Rose Roche requested $7,500 in “seed money” for two spring events, which the Community Development Committee approved for discussion but were not included in the City Council meeting agenda.
Councilman Carey Williams made a motion to add the discussion of funding a spring senior dinner and Spring Spree to the agenda. The Council unanimously approved to discuss funding both events, but not until after Mayor Lee clarified who is in charge of creating the City Council meeting agenda.
The Council approved providing $2,500 in “seed money” for the senior spring dinner $5,000 for the Spring Spree in a 3-2 vote. Council members Gary Hubble and Hugh Riviere opposed funding both events.
Roche has verbal commitments from 12 vendors for the Spring Spree tentatively set for April 13-14, she told the Council. “If we don’t have to spend [the money] we would like not to spend it, but we don’t have anything right now, and we need something to try to get a little traction going,” Roche said.
The Council approved the funding without requiring it to be repaid.
Last year, the City Council decided to approve community events on a case-by-case basis to avoid spending money on poorly attended and unsponsored events. Following the overhaul, the City Council denied funding the annual Christmas Parade and Parish Councilwoman Charlene Gordon’s annual Family Day in the Park, both in 2-3 votes. At the same time, the Council unanimously approved spending $5,000 for the annual Juneteenth Celebration, founded by Councilwoman Ray Helen Lawrence.
“I feel strongly that if we’re going to give to a new event, then we need to give first to these events we denied,” Mayor Lee said.
Councilman Brandon Brown said the senior dinner and Spring Spree are ways to “take care of our citizens” and create commerce in the city. Councilman Riviere reiterated that events should be funded based on their merit.
Councilman Hubble suggested city-funded events with less than 15 sponsors should take the back-burner to the city’s sewer problem.
“The sewer system should be our top priority, but that doesn’t mean we need to neglect our other areas,” Brown said.