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Posted: 01/16/13

DDA hesitant to give
$4,000 for Romeo events

Observer Staff Writer
      Amidst financial concerns, the Romeo Downtown Development Authority (DDA) has given support to two upcoming downtown events.
       The DDA voted 4-1 in favor of contributing $3,000 to the 175th Anniversary celebration planned for later this year. Village President, DDA Secretary and DDA Liaison Mike Lee was the dissenting vote.
       The DDA also voted 4-0 to give $1,000 to the Romeo Merchants, Restaurants and Professionals (MRP) Association for advertising the Romeo Romantic Days in February.
       DDA Carol Humphreys abstained from the vote since she serves as the MRP treasurer. DDA Vice-chairperson Randy Seidel and Directors Sandie Lorensen, Matt Ponke and Ted Czajka were not present at the Jan. 9 meeting.
       The DDA's normal practice has been to provide $1,000 to organizations putting on events in downtown Romeo. This year's budget set aside $8,000 for central business district events.
       Kim Hale, co-chair of the 175th Anniversary Committee, said the total cost of the 175th events to be held on March 9 and May 18 is expected to be around $30,000. The largest costs are for a laser light show and stage and sound equipment.
       "The biggest draw to get people to come to the area is the laser light show and to do something really fantastic to celebrate the whole event," Hale said.
       She said after revenue sources like vendor booths, a beer tent and food trucks, the committee hopes to raise $20,000 to cover the costs. Hale said if this amount isn't reached the contingency is to charge for attending the laser show.
       Lee suggested the DDA cover the cost of four banners that will be hung downtown and contribute $2,000 to the celebration. He has previously stated the DDA should be conservative with its budget in 2013.
       Humphreys wanted the full $3,000, saying it will show the DDA's support of the milestone event.
       "The money that this board has is money contributed by the central business district," she said. "What better way than to advertise the village in the best way possible."
       Romantic Days
       DDA board members were leery about providing funding for the MRP's Romeo Romantic Days and Chocolate Festival, scheduled for Feb. 15 and 16.
       MRP officials said last year's event fell short of expectations due to heavy snowfall. Lee agreed, saying around 80 percent of businesses didn't remove snow from the sidewalks, hampering those that did attend.
       "For the past two years Romeo Romantic Days haven't been successful," he said.
       MRP President Connie Connelly said re-organization of the MRP should contribute to the event's success this year.
       "Yes, we've had some glitches in the past, and we're hoping that this new management straightens things out and gets things on the up-and-up," Connelly said.
       Lee asked if the MRP could handle the event itself, as it has $6,000 in its accounts. Humphreys said only $2,000 of it is uncommitted, and the Romantic Days budget is $2,000.
       Alex Stubbs III, postmaster of the Romeo Post Office, said the Romantic Days is important to support because it gives the village exposure. He pointed to how the Romantic Days brings people in for an annual care package drive that has sent close to 6,500 packages to troops overseas.
       "All of the items have been generated by the community," he said. "The MRP has given the opportunity to be a part of this."
       Lee made the motion to support the $1,000 contribution, saying it would be a test of whether the DDA should continue funding MRP events.

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