Monterey City Council gives unanimous reprieve to New Year's bash.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
City staff recommended saying no to First Night Monterey's request for a $20 thousand in-kind grant for its annual family-friendly New Year's Eve celebration, but the City Council vetoed that proposal Tuesday June 15 after hearing from a line-up of First Night backers, and following an offer by the Old Monterey Business Association to shoulder some of the costs.
"I don't think you want to continue to make another reduction in things that attract visitors," said Ken Peterson of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, reminding the council of an aquarium-backed study that shows that many would-be tourists think the aquarium is the only attraction Monterey has to offer. "I don't know where the future lies if [First Night] disappears," Peterson said.
First Night Director Ellen Martin said she scaled back her grant request to the city from previous years, only asking for the basic city services—police, signs and street closures— the group needs to stage its big street party complete with music and arts events in locations throughout downtown Monterey.
"We just can't quit everything," noted City Councilman Frank Sollecito, as he suggested the council approve both an austere fiscal year budget that attempts to cover a $5 million deficit while also ponying up for First Night. "The arts, community pride and getting together are important. The staff recommendation was proper, but I'd like to make a motion to overrule it."
City officials will pay the First Night expenses from its cultural arts reserve fund.
The City Council also unanimously adopted the FY 2010-2011 budget.