Port Chester Fest organizers said Monday they welcome scrutiny from trustees and residents, and said they're willing to have a public conversation about how community events are funded.
The comments come after over funding non-profit and community events with public money.
In an e-mail exchange, Republican Trustees Bart Didden and Sam Terenzi said village government provided equipment, resources and paid staff like police and DPW employees, but did not receive enough recognition or value in return.
In the same discussion, Mayor Dennis Pilla said the village reaped benefits in other ways like publicity and several thousand potential shoppers spending the day in downtown Port Chester.
Last week, to Village Clerk Joan Mancuso for copies of all co-sponsorship agreements involving village government, as well as records of resources provided by village government to a range of community groups and non-profits. The list included the Council of Community Services, the Bush Homestead, and Port Chester recreational sports leagues among others.
Republicans say they are well within their rights to request the information, and point to the reaction among some in town as proof that some community activists are touchy about such inquiries.
Leaders at the Council of Community Services say they welcome any financial scrutiny from officials or the public, and on Monday they said they were confident their financial records would meet with approval.
Benefits from events like go beyond data that can be registered in spreadsheets, said Daniel Lipka, executive director of the Council of Community Services. While organizers hope to showcase Port Chester arts, restaurants and culture, their primary goal is putting on a festival for residents to enjoy, Lipka said.
"It really is about the residents, and this came out of focus groups with the residents," he said.
Village officials haven't released numbers on the total cost in resources, manpower and direct contributions, but Lipka said the overall cost of the event was $18,000. Festival organizers fell $4,000 short of breaking even, and Lipka said the Council of Community Services covered that portion with its own funds.
"I hope you'll also consider how the village benefits when events like Port Chester Fest occur," said the Rev. Bruce Baker of All Souls, who is the outgoing president of the community group's board of directors.
Mayor Dennis Pilla said the benefits met local government guidelines for justifiable use of resources, because doing otherwise would put the village in violation of law.
"We wouldn't be supporting you, Reverend," the mayor told Baker, "if there wasn't a benefit accrued."
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