Most people will agree that we are in a tough economy. Everyone is having to cut back on spending, saving pennies wherever they can. This is no different for government entities. Going into the 2012-13 budget process the City of New Port Richey had to drastically reduce its expenses. There were talks of layoffs, and special events were once again on the chopping block. The outlook looked grim at a City Council work session on August 16th.
For those of us that know and love Chasco Fiesta, we know that it is much more than an event. It is tradition, part of our heritage. Many people have family members that move away, but they still come home each year for Chasco Fiesta. For the locals it is old home week, with people walking around smiling and saying, "Happy Chasco!" Yet this is not enough to persuade the City to sponsor the event another year. Why should the City of New Port Richey invest tax payer dollars into a special event?
One of the industries that Florida relies on is tourism. Pasco County Tourism Development Council seemed to think there was value in this 90 year old event when they awarded it $21,254, which is an increase of $3,278 or 18% from 2012. Afterall, the 2012 Chasco Fiesta did have an economic impact of $2,169,943, with an estimated attendance of 106,000. Not too shabby. It was also able to leverage a huge amount of advertising thanks to its media partnerships. In 2013 there is $31,900 budgeted for advertising, with a value of $211,860.
If economic numbers aren't enough to warrant the investment, let's look at the mission of Chasco Fiesta. The reason that this event was created and exists today is to provide a venue where local non-profits can raise money. Over 30 organizations participated in 2012, and they raised $223,835. Supporting Chasco Fiesta is not only the smart thing to do, it's the right thing to do. And let's face it, how many times do you get to say that in today's society?
This was all discussed on August 16th. The City Council was reminded that Chasco Fiesta was awarded $40,000 of in kind services for the 2012 event, yet only $26,440 was utilized thanks to the tremendous effort put forth by volunteers. None of this changed the fact that no matter how wonderful Chasco Fiesta was, the City did not have the money to support it anymore. Or did it?
In swoops Councilman Bill Phillips with his laptop and mighty Excel spreadsheet. He sliced the budget and found extra funds. The Council agreed to use the funds to keep the pool open year round, continue the yard debris pick up service, and to fund some special events. They voted and Chasco Fiesta would receive $30,000 of in kind services for 2013. Chasco Fiesta will once again take place in Sims Park, in Downtown New Port Richey, as it should. New Port Richey without Chasco Fiesta would be like Disney World with no Mickey Mouse. Certain things in life just belong together.
Thank you to Bill Phillips for taking the time to pick through the budget and ask questions, and thank you to the rest of the New Port Richey Council for agreeing to fund Chasco Fiesta another year. We appreciate your support, and look forward to an amazing event in 2013. Happy Chasco!