The 1990 Freedom Festival lost more than $10,000, but city officials say he economic benefits derived from the annual extravaganza are worth it.
"We had a few surprises at the end," John Aldrich, immediate past festival president, told the City Council Tuesday.The greatest unexpected expense was postage to mail a 55-page, full-color festival magazine to every Utah County resident, he said. Festival organizers expected to be able to send out the publication at a non-profit organization rate. The Postal Service, however, refused to classify the festival as non-profit. The magazine ended up $9,355.42 over budget.
"That was most of the deficit," Aldrich said in an interview.
Overall, the festival collected $7,329 more than it spent on events. The nearly $10,777 deficit resulted from the festival having to pay $18,107 - half of festival executive director Marlo Jensen's salary. Provo pays the other half of Jensen's wage because he also works in the city's Economic Development Department.
"I don't feel very badly about this at all," said Mayor Joe Jenkins on Tuesday. "The Freedom Festival pays more than $10,000 in economic development in this community." The city is the festival's sponsoring agent and provides support services to put it on.
"That's a relatively insignificant amount of money," said Keith Haslem, the mayor's budget officer. He called the it an "excellent investment."
Last year was the first time the festival distributed the magazine through the mail. Aldrich said the executive committee is looking into doing it again this year with non-profit status.
"We are a non-profit organization," he said. "We are really part of the city."
To better demonstrate that, Aldrich said, the executive committee has instituted a new budget review process to better "keep track of the incoming and outgoing" funds.
"We try to cover all of our expenses. That's our goal," Aldrich said.
Besides the magazine, 19 of 29 items listed on the festival's 1990 report lost money.
Aldrich said the majority of those deficits were covered by $44,166 in gate receipts from the Panorama at Cougar Stadium and a $60,000 donation from Geneva Steel, the festival's major sponsor.
Even so, "We don't look at our events as winners and losers. We look at them all as winners," he said. Festival organizers, he said, know that some events will break even but are nonetheless important to the festival.
The 1989 festival was about $6,000 in the black.