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Council votes down winter marketplace funding

Posted by: Eric Roper Updated: June 23, 2014 - 4:29 PM

The council's budget committee on Monday voted against providing city aid for a winter marketplace to replace the annual Holidazzle parade.

The vote came after some council members questioned why this particular event would receive city funding, while others do not. The item was on the consent agenda of the ways and means committee, making its failure to pass unusual.

The action would have allocated $395,000 in city funds toward a European-style marketplace, in conjunction with $1.3 million of private support. Most of that would come out of the city's convention center budget, with another $95,000 paid out of the city coordinator's budget.

Whether the item will return in another form remains unclear. A call to committee chair council member John Quincy was not immediately returned Monday.

The city has traditionally funded Holidazzle to the tune of about $300,000, which is why the funds were set aside in this year's convention center budget.

Steve Cramer, president and CEO of the Downtown Council, said the funding was necessary to hold the event.

"Without the support we simply wouldn't be able to do that activity," Cramer said. "So we'd be kind of taking the winter off."

Council Members Andrew Johnson, Elizabeth Glidden, Blong Yang and Lisa Bender raised concerns with the motion. Glidden said she would prefer that all the money came from the convention center fund, which is funded through special sales taxes.

"I think it's an important partnership...But the question is what is the event, what funds make sense to support this," Glidden said. "Knowing that I do think a very important point for all of us up here [is] how do we fund or not fund other events?"

Yang asked whether a pool should be created to fund other events if this one is funded. "When you think about this, you think about it within the context of what about the other great events in the city?" Yang said. "And what about them not receiving direct funding?"

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