Making an exception to an , Mayor Daryl Finizio said 55 banners purchased by for OpSail 2012 should be put up. However, Finizio also cautioned that organizers must be willing to foot the bill for such services in the future.
“Owing to the importance of OpSail to the city of New London, and the state of Connecticut, I have today directed the to hang New London Main Street’s OpSail banners through the city,” Finizio said. “On this matter, the administration also wishes to respect the views of the City Council and nurture our co-operative working relationship.”
Penny Parsekian, chief executive officer of New London Main Street, welcomed the news.
“I’m thrilled,” she said. “I really am, because the banners really add something in terms of how the area and downtown looks. They’re beautiful, and with OpSail coming we want the downtown to look as good as it possibly can.”
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Under the executive order signed by Finizio in May, event organizers must account for the use of city services and pay this amount up front before any permits can be issued or any services can be rendered. On Monday, Parsekian told the City Council that Finizio’s office administrator, Tammy Daugherty, informed her that the city would to have Public Works hang the banners on light posts.
Parsekian said the city later agreed to cut the fee in half. She said New London Main Street received permission to seek a cheaper price through a private company, but then found out that the Public Works union would not allow this. She said the department also increased the price by 30 percent—to about $9,000—to put the banners up in time for OpSail, which .
Parsekian said the non-profit organization prepares a budget which zeroes out at the end of each fiscal year on June 30. She said the city informed her during the winter that it might have to charge for installation, but did not confirm this or give a cost estimate. She said that as a result, the organization did not include installation costs in the price for a sponsor to purchase a banner.
“That was the problem, that they did this to us in the middle of a fiscal year,” she said.
The City Council responded to the request by unanimously requesting Finizio’s administration to work with Public Works to resolve the issue. Some councilors suggested temporarily curtailing some services or putting the banners up piecemeal in order to keep costs to the city down.
Finizio said event organizers, parade committees, and non-profits should be prepared to account for the cost of city services in the future.
“[T]he days of the city being able to provide free services are over,” said Finizio. “The city budget is very lean, and the provision of free services in the coming fiscal year is simply something the city cannot afford. With no operating fund balance, such free services would force New London into a deficit, something we simply cannot sustain and remain solvent.”