The 2015 Tall Ships festival was a success, according to a Greenport Village expense report released Friday that shows the event netted almost $59,000 in profit over four days.
That’s more than double what the village claimed it made in profit at the previous Tall Ships event in 2012.
“All in all, I think everything went very well,” Mayor George Hubbard said. “The last two times the festival was done, it broke even or made a little money. That’s a gamble that you always take, but I think overall it’s a very positive thing for the village.”
According to the document, the village spent $295,369.40 on the four-day festival, which lasted through Fourth of July weekend and into the following Tuesday. The majority of those expenses covered the port fees for the six tall ships that visited the village, according to the report.
Buoyed by $102,000 in sponsorship deals and $225,987 in ticket sales, the village pulled in $354,029 in revenue, the document shows. The Village made $58,659.60 in total.
Mr. Hubbard said he hopes to spend the profits on repairs and upgrades at Mitchell Park, such as adding more benches and repairing the carousel’s doors.
For the full report, see below
The report was distributed to the Village Trustees Thursday after the final bills came in, the mayor said, adding the report was released as soon as possible.
“We wanted to do this fast to prove it was a good thing — there are no secrets,” Mr. Hubbard said. “Everything we spent was right there, down to the port-a-potties.”
Before the event, vocal critics — including Trustee Doug Roberts — had demanded more transparency about the finances of the event and warned the village may lose money if the weather was poor.
In an emailed statement, Mr. Roberts praised volunteers and wrote the event was not a “financial disaster” but said it could have been.
He claimed the financial report lacked analyses about “opportunity costs,” saying the village’s resources and staffing costs could have been better spent elsewhere.
“We all saw in the work session [meetings] and by the lack of attention to details to other village matters that, essentially, all non-Tall Ships work grinded to a halt,” he said.
Mr. Roberts also said the village must have lost money by losing out on marina revenue. He alleged that data was excluded from the report by Mr. Hubbard to protect former Mayor David Nyce.
“I am disappointed that this administration has put the needs of tourists and former elected officials over the needs of the taxpayers of this village to see the true financial analysis of the Tall Ships event,” Mr. Roberts said. “The people of this village spoke pretty clearly in March that they wanted to see a new era of transparency in village government. I hope my colleagues on the board will pay attention to this message at some point.”
Trustee Julia Robins, who was a member of the committee that planned the festival, said the board was “adamant” the report would be released in a timely manner and was not influenced by its critics.
“Every penny that was spent on that event was documented and recorded,” she said.
Friday’s Tall Ships report was not redacted, as the 2012 Tall Ship expense report had been. At the time, Mr. Nyce claimed information was removed to protect local businesses.
Ms. Robins said she was “thrilled” by the attendance.
“With all the time and energy that went into it, I’m very pleased it made a profit,” she said. “I feel proud that we pulled it off.”
Jan Claudio, co-owner of Claudio’s restaurant in downtown Greenport and a major sponsor of the event, said the festival was an “outstanding” success.
“I think we should praise the Village Board for taking on this huge task,” she said. “It was absolutely awesome.” She also said former Greenport Business Improvement District president Peter Clarke “worked tirelessly” to make this year’s Tall Ships event a success.
Mr. Hubbard said the Village Board members have not discussed whether they will hold a Tall Ships event in the future, noting the criticism drove a “wedge” between the Greenport BID — who set up sponsorships for the event — and the Village Board.
He’d rather see the village handle all the finances next time, with the BID’s assistance.
“The whole thing, PR wise, we’d have to take the negativity out,” he said.
Photo credit: Vera Chinese