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By STEVEN NALLEY
Representatives from the Sturgis South Motorcycle Rally Board and the city of Sturgis have varying perspectives on the reasons the latest rally contract was denied in a 3-2 vote Tuesday.
The Sturgis Board of Aldermen rejected a rally board contract proposal which would have paid the city $8,500 toward such services as security, sanitation and trash pickup.
Alderman Wayne McCool made the motion to reject the contract, and his motion passed with McCool, Amanda Paige and Quinnia Yates in favor and Mike Collins and Keith Parker against.
Throughout the meeting, Paige, Yates and McCool raised concerns about the rallyâ€™s ability to make enough money to pay the $8,500 and prevent the city from losing money. Sturgis Mayor Walter Turner refuted the three aldermenâ€™s arguments, and he said he believed the contract would have worked.
â€śThe main reason I believed it would work was because it has worked for 13 years in the past,â€ť Turner said. â€śThe town is able to work with its budget and make adjustments even before the rally starts. For example, if we see thereâ€™s going to be a small crowd, we can cut back on the services â€” Porta-Potties, trash services and security. We can adjust before we even spend the money, before the rally. Even if thereâ€™s some risk involved, which is minimal, the town needs to look at the greater good for the whole community and the surrounding area, including Starkville.â€ť
Rally board Vice President George Jones said his board hopes to have a public statement on the issue next week, but the rallyâ€™s next move is uncertain. He said the contract needs to happen before April ends to make the 2012 rally happen, and if the rally does not return in 2012, it would be infeasible for it to return later.
Jones said the vote did not surprise him because the three aldermen who rejected the contract have created difficulties for the rally over the last few years.
â€śThey pretty much told us they were afraid they couldnâ€™t get the $8,500,â€ť Jones said. â€śOffering them more money if they think they canâ€™t get the $8,500 wouldnâ€™t work. Weâ€™re all under the impression that if they did not take the offer we offered them â€” which was their counteroffer last year â€” (then) the three that voted against it ... just donâ€™t want the rally, and thereâ€™s nothing we can do about it in the town of Sturgis.â€ť
McCool said it is not true that he opposes the rally, nor was it true he wanted a guarantee the city would make money off the rally.
â€śWe told Walter if we broke even, we were fine with it, but by the numbers he presented, there was no chance we would break even,â€ť McCool said. â€śWhat we weâ€™re afraid of is we werenâ€™t going to get enough to cover the expenses. They can only pay us if they make a profit. We have to foot the bill until itâ€™s over with. Iâ€™m all for it if thereâ€™s a way it could be proved we could at least break even.
â€śI donâ€™t believe the rally or the town will make enough in vendor fees or RV sales,â€ť McCool added. â€śLast year, it was cancelled. The attendance is not going to be like it was.â€ť
Shortly after the meeting, McCool said he also disagreed with Turnerâ€™s claim that the city of Sturgis has never lost money on the rally.
â€śI can show you where we lost $3,500 last year,â€ť McCool said.
Rally board President Donny Hanson said he supported Turnerâ€™s claim.
â€śThe town has never lost any money on the rally,â€ť Hanson said. â€śThe rally board, on the other hand, has lost money a couple of years. The rally board has done everything it can do to keep the rally going, and we have run into roadblocks from the town board on everything we could have done. Weâ€™re the ones going out on a limb. Itâ€™s not them.â€ť