Rocky Fork Enterprise

No fireworks, no Freedom Festival

City attorney: Mayor within rights to cancel events

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

Gahanna Mayor Becky Stinchcomb had the authority to cancel a contract for the city's July 4 fireworks, according to city attorney Shane Ewald.

Stinchcomb asked for Ewald's written legal opinion last week after council member Karen Angelou questioned Stinchcomb's neglect to seek council's authorization first.

According to city charter, Ewald said, the authority to pass legislation is reserved to council; however, the authority to execute and enforce such legislation is reserved by the office of the mayor.

"Upon review, it is clear that council authorized the mayor to execute the contract through ORD-0079-2013 and that the city charter reserved to the mayor the enforcement of the contract," Ewald wrote on May 23. "The mayor, absent a specific mandate to the contrary in the enabling legislation, has the authority to exercise the right to cancel the contract as allowed in section seven of the agreement."

Following the failure of the city's proposed income-tax rate increase May 7, Stinchcomb presented council with a May 20 memo that outlined revenue expected each year, along with associated needs (See related chart).

Although she was pleased to report revenue to be slightly higher than planned, Stinchcomb said the city still faces multimillion-dollar gaps in funding.

The city's needs in 2014 are expected to exceed planned revenue by $12.9 million, following $2.3 million of unfunded capital needs this year, she said.

As city leaders, Stinchcomb said, it would be irresponsible to continue to spend money on non-essential services, even if the funds already were appropriated.

As the city moves to reduce and eliminate services, she said, Gahanna will start with those items that aren't essential to the core mission of the city in an effort to allow funding of services that are necessary.

"We will evaluate the cost and benefits of every service provided and make decisions based on this analysis," she said.

Stinchcomb said she plans to provide a comprehensive plan and recommendations, but some decisions needed to be made quickly, including the decision about fireworks and the Freedom Festival.

She said the city would continue to support the Lions Club parade July 4.

The cancellation of the festival and fireworks is expected to save $34,121 for 2013.

She said the $19,380 contract contained a cancellation clause of 25 percent, or $4,845, if canceled more than 30 days before the event. The fee would have been increased to 75 percent if canceled within 30 days of the event.

Stinchcomb said the city negotiated with vendor S. Vitale Pyrotechnico Industries Inc. so the $4,845 could be used as a credit within the next two years.

She said the fireworks show is only one part of the expense.

The event also costs $13,797 for personnel support and supplies from parks and recreation, $761 for service-staff support and $5,789 for police department staff support.

The city also will save an additional $10,000 in 2013 that was appropriated to fund a deposit for the 2014 show, Stinchcomb said.

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