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Poll: Downtown Batavia celebrations: Fund 'em or scrap 'em

By Philip Anselmo

Yesterday, we ran a post about the push by some members of Batavia's City Council to cut down on the funding for downtown celebrations, such as Summer in the City and Christmas in the City. Councilman Bob Bialkowski explained that they only wanted to limit the amount of funding available to cut down on overtime costs, but that they would not eliminate the celebrations altogether. Bialkowski justifies the push for cuts as a measure to minimize the city's property tax rate. Opponents of the cuts, however, argue that any cut in funding would shift too much of a cost burden onto the Batavia Business Improvement District, sponsors of the events.

What do you think?

Should the city cut funding for downtown events?
( surveys)
Charlie Mallow

Just to be clear, we cut this funding in half last year. The BID was able to continue the events by picking up those added costs. Taking more will just end the events.

Jan 22, 2009, 12:13pm Permalink
Batavia Business Improvement District

The BID, a non-profit organization totally seperate from the City of Batavia, funds these events from its limited budget. The BID's committees have demonstrated that they are willing to work with the City by having cut costs year after year.

I guess the question would be how much would this small amount effect the city tax rate? From what most can tell it would be minor if anything. Is the sacrifice worth it in the long run to maintain quality of life and to support local business people?

Over 4,000 people alone attend Summer in the City, which generates sales tax and brings in visitors (from all over western New York) who spend money on food, crafts, support local organizations, etc. Does the community wish to for go these funds as well?

BID relies on projects like these to generate revenue for our restaurants and retailers in order to maintain a stable economy in our downtown and community. Without assistance from the City there might not be future events.

Jan 22, 2009, 2:04pm Permalink
Dan Kemp

can we somehow have the business's who want to participate in said downtown events pay a portion? an idea i have is to have all the business's who want to participate donate some items and/or services to have an auction at the time of event! all proceeds would go to help pay for said events.not only would that help raise funding but would also help permote there business. just a thought! i am a log time resident of Batavia and would hate to see such a good thing go down the drain.

Jan 24, 2009, 10:22am Permalink
Howard B. Owens

I've never seen the budget for these events, but from having participated, I draw three conclusions. One, they're expensive to put on. Two, various businesses contributed quite a bit of money to help pay for the events, be that through booth fees or sponsorships. Three, the events are of great benefit to the city and the community.

Why do businesses participate? It isn't, I can tell you, entirely altruistic. We're all hoping these events will help, in general, improve the business climate, and specifically lead to more revenue for our individual enterprises. In other words, I am proud that The Batavian has been able to financially support these events, but if I didn't believe there would be value in helping us grow our business, I could never justify the cash outlay from a P&L perspective.

As has been noted, the city realizes economic benefit from these events. In a case like this, the city is just like any other business. It's good to support your community, it helps lead to a healthier community, but there is also an economic gain to be realized. The city profits from its participation as a sponsor.

In that analysis, it would be a bad business decision, indeed, for the city's share of funding to be cut any further, especially if such cuts led to the scuttling of these events.

The cliche "cutting off your nose in spite of your face" springs to mind.

One last thought: A healthy community has healthy businesses. If businesses fail, the communities fail. You can't separate one from the other.

Jan 24, 2009, 11:02am Permalink
Mark Potwora

I have been to Oakfields labor dazes and also Leroys summer
festival,and many firemens carnavials..How are all these supported and financed ..They all seem to be pretty well attended..

Jan 24, 2009, 12:47pm Permalink

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