BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – The revived Fort Madison Mexican Fiesta will get $1,000 from the city to help offset some of the costs of helping get the celebration to its 97th year.
With several members of the Fiesta committee sitting in the audience, David Varley explained at Tuesday’s regular City Council meeting, that the city budgets for contingencies in a fund that the City Council itself can vote on as far as expenditures or, in this case, contributions.
Varley said the fund only has about $4,600 in it because of the tight nature of the city’s budget.
Several City Councilman including Chris Greenwald and Chad Cangas, and Mayor Brad Randolph commended the group on pulling the event up after officials had canceled it earlier in the year.
Greenwald said the event is part of the tradition and heritage of Fort Madison and the city should help keep it going. He commended Varley on making sure that there was money in an ever-tightening budget to be able to offer some help.
“I would hate to have seen this event not make it to 100 years,” Cangas said. “I would hope even in my lifetime we don’t see this come to an end.”
Randolph said the festival was more than tradition, but a part of the fabric of the city.
“This is really a part of the fabric of who we are as a city and if there’s even a small way we can help keep this festival going we should do that,” Randolph said.
Councilman Mark Lair asked if going forward, the festival committee should be approaching the tourism commission for funds to help with the event.
Varley said the commission, under current guidelines, would not be a source for funding because of the number of years the festival has been occurring. But Randolph said the festival might consider talking with the city’s tourism director Jean Peiton.
“She has some discretionary funds in her budget that she might be able to help the festival with.”
The council voted 4-0 to approve the contribution. Councilmen Rusty Andrews, Matt Mohrfeld, and Kevin Rink were absent from the meeting.
In an unrelated issue, Varley said the first meeting on the Burlington Northern Santa Fe bridge study will take place Thursday.
The city had committed $72,000 for the study and Randolph at the time said he was going to try to solicit some support from area industries and businesses.
He said working through the Southeast Iowa Regional Planning Commission, he notified area businesses and industries of the city’s intent to help with the study of the current bridge.
“Of the $72,000 the city committed to the study, one industry committed $40,000 and that industry was Iowa Fertilizer Company. We appreciate them stepping up and contributing such a large amount to this study.”
Varley said the city didn’t budget the full $32,000 that was remaining on the city’s contribution, but he said staff will be looking into ways to come up with the remainder of the city’s share.