ArtsQuest cuts Bethlehem services and Musikfest payment

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View the full size Express-Times File in PhotoArtsQuest. will make use of less municipal services, and consequently will pay less in the form of fees to cities in order to attend Musikfest in the coming year.

The two parties negotiated a new agreement.

that reduces the number employees working in the city.

and cut the amount that the group pays towards the municipality by $50,000.

ArtsQuest will utilize an ambulance service that is private as well as ground crews, with smaller portions of the city’s fire, police and electric departments president Jeff Parks said.The lower fees cut ArtsQuest’s city contribution of $286,760 for 2011 to 235,000 this year, Parks said.

The issue as to the question of ArtsQuest could afford to pay for the municipal Musikfest services was the catalyst for ArtsQuest to reconsider its business model, Parks said.

The cost of keeping city ambulances on site is ArtsQuest the equivalent of $90 an hour. Parks said.Private ambulance services will cost the group around a quarter of that amount, he added.It is unclear if the city EMS Director Gordon Smith could not be available for comment Monday evening.

Instead of paying park employees from the city overtime to clean the grounds of the festival each day, ArtsQuest will hire its own field crews for the 10 days Festival, Parks said.

ArtsQuest will also utilize less electricity from the city’s electrical as well as police department, and police being cut by between 10 and 15 %, Parks said.ArtsQuest will also reduce the city’s fire department by not having firefighters be in charge of crowd control, something they’re not trained specifically for, Parks said.

The city’s administration has accepted modifications, Parks said.The mayor John Callahan did not respond to questions on Monday.

The council is expected to discuss the changes proposed in a finance committee meeting scheduled for 7. p.m. on Monday. Council Chair Eric Evans stated.Evans stated that he has asked city department directors to be present at the council meeting, so that they could discuss how they believe the festival could be conducted without the need for departments within the city.

Evans stated that he had a conversation with Callahan on Monday. She claimed there will be a reduction of $50,000 in costs to make up for the loss of income.If that’s the case, Evans said, he is likely to support the revised contract.

The City Councilor David DiGiacinto said he wanted to ensure that the new contract was a mixture of reduced costs and services.

Holland has often argued it is appropriate for cities to be able to charge ArtsQuest the additional 40 percent on its Musikfest fees to cover costs associated with the rise in wages, including social security taxes as well as workers’ compensation retirement benefits.Parks claimed that the current Musikfest contract will include these expenses.

, Parks said ArtsQuest needs to think of ways to reduce its Musikfest expenditure all over the board. Holland’s comments helped him analyze the organization’s operations.

ArtsQuest’s losses of $ 750,000 during Musikfest last year slowed the pace of the payments for its Festival services back to the city.In January,

ArtsQuest is currently owed by the city $59,000 to cover Musikfest expenses in 2011 and has filed an agreement to repay the amount on July 31st in Bethlehem, Bethlehem Comptroller Robert Pfenning said on Monday.

About Matthew R. Dailey

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