BELLEAIR BEACH — The city’s upcoming Fall Festival, scheduled for Sept. 28, was declared to be “in jeopardy” by Mayor Joseph Manzo. Problems with the policy that enabled the city to seek and sign up sponsors for the event were threatening its occurrence, he said.
“I don’t believe we can move forward (with the Fall Festival),” Manzo said at a special meeting Aug. 8, which he called to discuss the issue.
On the agenda was a discussion of the city’s Sponsorship Policy and Agreement for events, and also a reprimand of City Manager Lynn Rives for “failure … to create sponsorship agreements and releases” for the Fall Festival, plus the planned Halloween Trunk or Treat event, Christmas Festival for Children, and the City Car Show, all events proposed by the city’s Park and Recreation Board.
Manzo opened the meeting by saying the Fall Festival had been approved by council, and the Parks and Rec Board had been “working very hard” on it. But, he said, “We don’t have a policy. We don’t have an agreement. And no sponsors have been signed.”
The sponsorship policy, as written, would “preclude 50 percent to 60 percent of the sponsors we want to sign,” Manzo said.
“It’s a bad policy. It needs to be fixed,” he said. Manzo said he had about 10 pages of objections to the sponsorship policy.
City Attorney Fred Reilly was less severe in his criticism of the sponsorship policy. He said it was “not a bad policy,” but “needs more work in key areas.”
Reilly said his concern was completing it in time to be used with the Fall Festival. Manzo said he was going out of town and could not work on it right away.
Also on the agenda was a Sponsorship Agreement, the contract that sponsors would sign, which Manzo said had fewer problems and was fixable.
“We can go with the agreement, which I have far less problems with (than the policy). We’re under the gun right now. If we don’t get this out, we’re in trouble,” Manzo said.
Reilly said it was not necessary to approve the policy right away. “You do not need (the policy). You need an agreement. I think the agreement covers what major bases you need to cover for purposes of putting on your event at the end of September.”
Council rejected the sponsorship policy until the work is done to make it acceptable, but approved the agreement form by a vote of 6-1.
Councilman Dave Gattis summed up the discussion on the agreement saying, “If anyone needs to sign a contract now, we can do that.” He said the attorney can then make the needed changes and “we can do an amended version of that contract for anyone else going forward.”
City manager reprimand goes nowhere
An item placed on the agenda by Manzo sought to blame Rives for the sponsorship problems, which Manzo said threatened the Fall Festival.
“Reprimand of city manager for failure to timely carry out the City Council’s Item 10 Directive of July 1, 2019, that required him to create sponsorship agreements and releases to be used in the Fall Festival, Trunk or Treat event, Christmas Festival for Children, and the City Car Show.
“City Manager, by his failure to promptly act upon the July 1, 2019, item 10 directive of the City Council has caused unnecessary delay upon the festival; has caused unnecessary work, delay and stress upon the parks board, this city council, and the city; has caused the city embarrassment before various potential sponsors and organizations; and has negatively delayed and affected the parks board’s ability to obtain sponsorships for the Fall Festival.”
A motion by Council member Robyn Ache to reprimand Rives failed when no council member seconded it. In the past, many of the council members have been supportive of Manzo, but in this case it was clear council would not vote for Manzo’s proposed action.
After adjourning the special meeting, there was a break before starting a scheduled workshop meeting. At the start of that meeting, Manzo announced that he and Rives had met privately during the break.
Manzo said, “For those of you who expected me and Lynn to fight it out, I’m pleased to announce that he and I went in the back and discussed everything. We’re good, we’re happy, we’re just moving forward, we will work together in the future. So, we smoked the old peace pipe and we’re good.”
Rives had no comment to council or The Bee on the reprimand vote or the meeting with Manzo.
Parks and Rec Board chairman June VanScoyoc told The Bee after the meeting she was pleased with the outcome.
“We are back on track to move forward,” she said. “We’re going back to work hand in hand with the council to create a magnificent event like nothing the city has ever seen.”