Go Big or Go Home

On March 11th we reported here in the blog about an eight month long ambition concerning a collaborative effort under the name of Celebrate America.  If you had read that earlier post you may recall Celebrate America being a grass roots initiative with aspirations of holding a city wide, daylong event each year on July 4th. At that time a few key meetings had yet to take place, meetings that would ultimately decide whether Celebrate America could be realized in 2012 or not.  The following is an update status regarding those outstanding meetings.

City Council Study Session
On Tuesday, March 13th, the City of SeaTac Parks and Recreation Director Kit Ledbetter read a proposed motion requesting the City Council to consider approving a request to provide public funds to finance nearly 65% of the planned Celebrate America event expenses. A presentation to the council was made by CA Chairman Steve Beck with the objective of reassuring elected officials that although the ambition is great, there are no better resources to run these events than the selected stakeholders whose qualifications and proven history clearly demonstrate continual success in their respective areas.  After a series of questions by Council representatives and responses provided by Steve with additional support from Committee Member Clyde Hill, a vote was taken on the motion.  Although all Council Members indicated appreciation of the effort put forth by the CA team and all seemed to think it was a great idea however the motion failed to pass due to lack of funding available in the current city budget.
Hotel / Motel Advisory Committee
On Wednesday, March 14th, Chairman Steve Beck and Co-Chair Judy Williams with additional CA Committee Members attended the H/M Advisory Committee meeting to hear the final determination of advisement to the City Council regarding the request for funding from H/M Taxes in accordance to the Revised Code of Washington Title and Chapter 67.28. RCW 67.28.1816 authorizes use of funds for marketing and operations of special events and festivals, and whereas RCW 67.28.180 approves use of funds for construction and operation of tourism-related facilities. 

After a lengthy period of inquiries by Advisory Committee Members and representatives from Southwest Chamber of Commerce and Seattle Southside Tourism directed to the CA Committee representatives to respond to, an advisory committee member inferred that based on the results from Council Study Session held the previous day, it seemed clear to them that that City does not support this initiative and therefore neither should the Hotel / Motel industry. Attending Councilmember Rick Forschler commented that the entire council was behind the idea, it was more a matter of this not being an established 2012 budgeted item and therefore no funds were available to apply to this initiative.  

Some additional discussion ensued with the majority leaning toward the opinion that this sounded like a wonderful event that would benefit local citizen’s more than it would bring “heads to beds” and therefore should be the responsibility of the City to fund from its other revenue sources. A tally was taken and the consensus was unanimous, none of the voting advisory committee members favored spending H/M Taxes on this event and therefore no advisement would be sent to council for further consideration.

Council Festival Committee
The following Tuesday, March 20th, Celebrate America Committee Chairman, Co-Chair and Committee members joined with the Council members Barry Ladenberg, Dave Bush, Pam Fernald and Parks Staff Kit Ledbetter and Lawrence Ellis to review the remaining funding option available for consideration. The Festival Committee had offered to re-proportion $5,000 from the International Festival budget, another $5,000 to be derived from the Hotel / Motel Taxes with an offer to assist in a fundraising effort to achieve a matching amount of an additional $5,000 – for a total of $15,000.  The Celebrate America Committee conveyed appreciation for the generous offer, reiterated that from the beginning the CA group made it clear that there was no intention of taking anything away from other established festivals and then respectfully declined the offer on the basis that the mission of the CA festival is to “Go Big or Go Home”.  

The supporting justification given was that any group is capable of putting on single events at any time within the city; that should the city had decided to in the past they could have hosted a picnic, produced games and provided entertainment for the hundreds of citizen’s regularly attending Angle Lake Park on the Fourth of July; however the CA Committee goal was motivated at drawing in all citizens throughout the entire city to gather together in collective celebration.  The committee members recognized that this objective could not be achieved with the limited amount of funding offered.

What Remains?
Prior to leaving the Festival Meeting, the Celebrate America Committee presented to the Festival Committee a draft Resolution requesting a formal acknowledgement of support by the City Council toward the CA event and included authorization to use of public spaces to host the various events at no charge and asked to direct City Staff to collaborate with the CA Committee in further planning efforts. The Festival Committee representatives had agreed to take this to the City Attorney via the City Manager for further review and to perform any compliance edits necessary.  Upon completion of final revisions, the Council Festival Committee plans to take this to the full council for approval.

If this remaining action is met with success, the Celebrate America Committee will independently pursue private / commercial sponsorship which is intended to alleviate any need for public funding from the City beyond normal emergency services and use of public spaces.  The goal remains the same, to hold a city wide, daylong event on July 4th, only the target inaugural year has changed.

Viewing the Recorded CA Presentation
To view the recorded presentation delivered by the Celebrate America Representatives at the March 13th City Council Study Session:
  • From the City of Seatac Homepage, click on the linked option titled SeaTV located on the left side menu.
  • Clicking on SeaTV will open a new browser window.  Located on the top menu bar is the menu option titled Council Meetings. Clicking on this item will reveal an index of recorded meetings to choose from.
  • Select Council study session 3-13-2012 to open the viewer.
  • From the right side menu, select Agenda Bill # 3409 to fast forward to the CA presentation specifically.  

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