Although costs for the city’s premiere attraction have been escalating the plug won’t be pulled any time soon, city council has decided.
With the cost for the Rossland Winter Carnival coming in at almost double what it has been budgeted for over the last five years, the difference between budget and actual was disconcerting to some councilors.
City manager of public works Darrin Albo said in breaking down the carnival’s budget year-by-year since 2010 it was found it was going well over the budget council had set out for the carnival for in-kind contributions.
In 2010 the budget amount was $6,000 (spent $13,000) and it had grown to a budget of $9,500 in 2013, with $17,000 spent by the public works department.
“I wanted council to be aware of the escalating costs of Winter Carnival and that the demands they keep asking of us for that weekend are increasing,” said Albo.
“(What they need) is the same each year, but as city crews get into the weekend the demands are a lot higher.”
The city provides road closures downtown (Spokane, Queen streets), as well as snow hauling and creation of the bobsled course, the Rail Jam site and the volleyball court on Queen Street.
As well, the city provides assistance with snow removal and snow moving in the Mountain Haus parking lot for the snow sculpture display (packing snow forms), and setting up a stage for Friday night and Saturday events.
An electrical tree is provided for power for Friday night and Saturday beer gardens and food vendors, and snow moving is done at the Lions’ campground for the children’s carnival.
Albo said the demands of the Rail Jam—a snow slide created down Queen Street for the performance of board and ski tricks—are increasing costs, from $3,000 to $8,400 in 2013.
There are two reasons for that, he said: a lack of snow, therefore the city has to haul it all in; and the carnival’s volunteer group isn’t as large as it used to be, meaning more time is required with a front end loader.
In 2013 the city’s loader operator stopped volunteering his time for the weekend, meaning he had to be charged out at city rates to complete the work.
“But I’m going to say that if we have an average snowfall year, and we do the demands that the winter carnival is asking, we are going to be in the $15,000 range,” said Albo. “Council needs to be aware of that and put it into the budget for next year.”
The carnival committee had asked in a letter to council Nov. 25 for the city to approve a request for in-kind work again for the 117th Rossland Winter Carnival, running from Jan. 23-26 in 2014.
Councilor Jill Spearn asked if there was any way the Winter Carnival could pay for a portion of those rising costs.
“It seems to be escalating to the point where it is double,” she said. “Do we lower the service level?”
Or perhaps set a limit on the service, asked councilor Kathy Moore.
“And if it is a bad snow year they might have to cancel the Rail Jam,” she said. “We just have to somehow control that.”
That sentiment was met with opposition in council. Council Jody Blomme said Rossland accommodators were booked months ahead for the event, and the carnival brought in a huge number of people into the city.
“I think this just means we have to budget much more realistically, and pay attention to the money,” she said. “I don’t see any intelligence in reigning in an event that is very important to the community and the economy.”
With all that being said, said Mayor Greg Granstrom, when council comes up to this year’s budget time, hopefully the carnival budget is dealt with right away and a firm decision on what kind of budget it will have can be made.
The recommendation to approve the request for in-kind work passed, with a letter being sent by city staff to inform the carnival committee there were concerns from council over the budget trend, and that there will be some discussion on the amount.
2010: budget – $6,000, spent $13,000
- 2011: budget – $6,400, spent $9,300
- 2012: budget – $6,400, spent $9,800
- 2013: budget – $9,500, spent $17,000
- 2013 cost breakdown: Rail Jam $8,400; bobsled $4,300; ice bar $1,500; statue $2,500.