The organizers of the Suncoast Offshore Grand Prix are struggling with the city over funding again this year.
The city informed event volunteer Bruce Franklin last week that it would not pay the $6,500 for a police presence at the July 2 boat parade.
“It’s incomprehensible that they would do this just weeks before the parade,” Franklin said.
Organizers and volunteers have raised more than $130,000 to pay for the weeklong event, including the hiring of private security.
But private security guards are not permitted to direct traffic surrounding the Main Street parade route, which is why police are required.
Franklin said he submitted the permits in February and called to check every few weeks to see if there were any problems, and none was raised. That’s why he said he was surprised to get a call last week about the public-safety money.
Organizers had the same issue last year. Franklin went before the City Commission asking for greater funding from the city.
He presented a Convention and Visitors Bureau study that found the 2007 Offshore Grand Prix brought in $9 million to the city and county.
But Deputy City Manager Peter Schneider said with the budget situation the way that it is, the city is cutting back on non-essential spending.
“The city manager is trying to do everything he can to avoid more layoffs,” Schneider said.
Franklin said he is hoping the city will relent and pay the $6,500 for police protection.
“It’s a question of doing the right thing,” he said. “I view it as their responsibility. We’re not coming to beg at the last minute.”
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