Orange Park, FL

Orange Park budget committee wants to drop funding for Reel Fun Night, Longest Table

Julie Morgan
Town of Orange Park website

The Town of Orange Park Budget and Finance committee has recommended eliminating funding for some town events from the budget.

The committee recommended eliminating Reel Fun Night and the Longest Table. Each event had a $5,000 budget.

Reel Fun Night and the Longest Table were axed in favor of using the funds from those line items for adult events. Keep in mind, the Town Council could still decide to use the money for those events under the new designation.

Reel Fun Night was not on the schedule this year, and the Longest Table was canceled due to weather.

At a council meeting earlier this year, Mayor Randy Anderson suggested scheduling more adult events. However, that idea was not included in the proposed 2022-2023 budget.

“I see we’ve budgeted no money for adult events. I think we’ll probably need to budget about $20,000 for adult events,” said Anderson. The motion for adult events passed unanimously.

The committee also discussed other events in detail at Monday’s meeting.

Fall Festival is considered a signature event for the town but operates at a loss. Councilwoman Susana Thompson questioned whether an entry charge would help make up for the $6,000 difference between revenue and expenses.

“I think we would have people angry,” responded Emily Dockery, Events and Recreation coordinator.

Charging attendees was brought up again during the public comment period of the meeting. “It’s worth everything that it costs the taxpayers,” said Sandra DiGiovanni of Fall Festival. “It makes Orange Park the kind of town that people want to live in.” She said losing money on this event should not be a concern.

The committee did not take any action on the entry charge issue.

Hometown Holiday is another “loss leader,” according to Dockery. The 2021 event cost the town $11,000 more than it took in.

However, the 17 annual Farmers’ Markets operate in the black. Committee member Frank Ricketts questioned whether to reduce the event.

“How critical is the Farmers’ Market 17 times a year?” But, because it’s a money-maker, other committee members immediately shut down that line of thought.

What’s next? The committee makes the recommendation, and the town council decides whether to agree at the final reading of the budget.

The Budget & Finance Committee is made up of the five council members as well as Frank Ricketts and S. Winnette Sandlin.

Monday’s workshop focused on the legislative, finance, and economic & community development department budgets. The next meeting will focus on police and fire budgets. That workshop is Monday, August 22 at 6 p.m.

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