On January 9, the new Weddington town council decided that building community spirit and helping to brand Weddington (which goes a long way to help with property values) was no longer a priority. For the past two years, our town has hosted Weddstock. While other communities pay event planners or staff that handle parks and recreation events, Weddington was lucky enough to have a team of dedicated volunteers, who, in just these two short years, built a huge success. As vice-chairman of the Weddington Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, I attended a local workshop with staff from Wesley Chapel, Monroe, Stallings and Indian Trail. All were in awe of Weddstock and amazed by the fact it was a volunteer effort. To be fair, Weddstock is presented by Kids First of the Carolinas, a local charity that every December has a month long radio fundraiser on WBT.
Because the event is in Weddington, was initiated by our Parks and Rec board, and the volunteers are concerned mothers in our community, the Town of Weddington was afforded the “title sponsor” spot. The first year of the event, our town kicked in about $11,000. The second year, it was increased to $20,000. This is part of the, approximately $250,000 it cost to actually have the event, and if you break it out per resident, we are talking about approximately one dollar and sixty-seven cents…$1.67 per resident. Attendance this past year was around 6,000, with Weddington businesses, Providence Volunteer Fire Department, and numerous local churches and school clubs participating.
While all indications are that this event will continue to grow, with the cost to the town dropping, by a 3 to 2 vote our Town Council said the cost was too much for the town (Mayor Walker Davidson broke the tie in concert with Pam Hadley and Barbara Harrison). In these tough economic times, I would normally side with that being a reasonable decision, even though the town received immeasurable benefits that likely exceeded the cost to the town.
So, here is where the spin comes in. Mayor Davidson, later in the meeting, described the deficit of the Wesley Chapel Volunteer Fire Department, projected at $18,673, as a “rounding error in accounting”. So, given that the WCVFD budget and the town budget are very similar, which is it? Will the town of Weddington run itself into bankruptcy trying to support our community, our schools, our businesses…or, is $19,000 just an accounting blip that doesn’t need to be worried about?