The Union Recorder

November 13, 2013

First Friday in need of funding help for improvements

Kyle Collins
The Union-Recorder

MILLEDGEVILLE — Milledgeville Main Street’s successful family friendly First Friday events need some financial relief to foster growth, according to Milledgeville District 4 City Councilman Phillip Joiner.

The topic headed discussion at Tuesday’s City Council work session.

After three years of existence, Joiner said a yearly Main Street “pot” of $3,500 used to produce entertainment for four full city blocks restricts the output.

“To make each block flourish with music and everything that goes into each block of the city, they get $73,” Joiner said. “It was almost stinging to see how little that First Friday has to work with. The goal is to spark a discussion amongst this group as to what can or should the city do to assist First Fridays in the long or short term as they continue to grow.”

Joiner said more funds mean more city block participation. Also, comparable towns have larger Main Street office staffs.

“The folks here are doing double the work of the people they have,” the Councilman said. “But they are stretched very thin with the resources currently available to them. The First Friday Committee has stepped up, and I think the city should follow suit.”

Joiner added that the festive Friday events increase downtown business between 10 to 50 percent. 

District 4 City Councilman-elect Walter Reynolds said continually asking bands to play for less money or even free of charge is “incredibly difficult.”

“I believe the quality of entertainment we could provide to the community with a smaller budget increase would be exponentially worthwhile and pay off in the long run,” Reynolds said Tuesday.

Councilwoman Denese Shinholster, District 3, said a line item increase was for future budget proceedings.

“(Main Street Director Carlee Schulte) needs to increase the line item in her budget request,” Shinholster said. “I commend them for everything. They’ve done a wonderful job with the money they have.”

Councilman Steve Chambers, District 6, said the investment would pull in additional business investment that could benefit from the once-a-month promotions.

Mayor Richard Bentley said this type of fiscal request should funnel through the department head to the city manager and then a Council budget recommendation to make an amendment during the current fiscal year.

• City applying for fire department equipment grant

City Planner Melba Hilson informed Council of the Assistance to Firefighters Grant funded through the Department of Homeland Security.

“This grant would have award categories for operations and safety, vehicle acquisition and a joint regional grant opportunity,” Hilson said. “We’d like to submit something for this to protect personal equipment and also to look at improving communications equipment.”

The possible grant award maximum of $1 million carries a f5 percent match. The grant application deadline is Dec. 6 with funding rolling out next Feb. 10, 2014.

Council agreed to move forward with the grant request.

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