City Spends More Than Expected on Roots and Blues Festival

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COLUMBIA - According to data presented to the Columbia City Council, the city spent more than it expected to host the 2013 Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival. 

The city spent $43,576.76 on the festival. Most of that money was spent by the Columbia Police Department. The department spent $39,546.26 on officers to manage crowd control, traffic and other duties.

The final tally came in about $3,000 more than the department expected to spend. In a report from August, 2013 the department said it expected to spend $36,878.64 on the festival. 

Lt. Krista Shouse-Jones said the overspending is because of a switch in commanders during the planning period. Shouse-Jones took over Roots N Blues N BBQ after a proposal to the city council in August. She said the previous commander didn't take into account several expenses, like lunches for officers and officers at certain locations around the park. 

The Columbia Fire Department came in under budget, spending $4,050.30 on the festival. In August the fire department said it expected to spend $7,4538.45. 

The city was reimbursed for most of its spending during the festival. The agreement with Thumper Entertainment, the group behind the festival, said the company has to pay the city for trash and recycle services, rental fees and $2.00 for every ticket sold. The payments add up to $31,958.52. That's about $11,000 less than what the city spends on the festival.

Shouse-Jones said the move to Stephens Lake Park may have saved the city money. She said having Roots N Blues N BBQ downtown required more officers to deal with traffic and high volumes of people in a confined space. She said since Stephens Lake Park is more open and traffic is more manageable, the police department did not need to pay as many officers. 

Megan McConachie with the Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau said a high turnout at the 2013 festival will help make up for what the city spent.

"About 57 percent of visitors were new visitors to Columbia who had never been here before... and when you spend an entire weekend somewhere there's a lot of sales tax generated," McConachie said.

The city has not calculated how much tax revenue it collected from the weekend to help offset it's costs.

For a full breakdown of the city's spending on the Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival, click here