WOODMERE — Mayor Ben Holbert’s final push for $25,000 to fund a 75th village anniversary celebration dinner in November and other items hit a brick wall last week when council members didn’t even take a vote allowing the proposal to simply die.
Council already approved $20,000 for a community summer music festival on Aug. 25.
Council members previously indicated that they would like to see a line item budget for the dinner celebration, which the mayor provided to them on July 8. Mayor Holbert said the $25,000 would include a dinner and reception in November, fees to participate in the 11th Congressional District Parade and other miscellaneous needs such as keepsakes. He stressed that the administration would not spend more than $25,000. His goal was to receive nearly $25,000 back in revenue from title sponsorships, advertisements in a souvenir booklet and the ticket price of the meals for the dinner reception.
“It is not the desire of this administration to exhaust the total appropriation,” he wrote in a letter to council on July 8.
Councilwoman Glenda Todd-Miller said that she wants the residents to be the focus of the 75th anniversary celebration. The tickets to the reception would cost $75, which Ms. Todd-Miller said may be too expensive for some Woodmere residents.
“I am all in support of celebrating our 75 years in the village, but my concern is for the residents. They are the most integral part of getting us where we are in 75 years,” she said. “We may have more than 10 people who consider $75 per person to be a hardship. Dignitaries are important but my residents are the most important.”
Mayor Holbert agreed that residents are the priority, but said that he wants to share the anniversary with dignitaries, too. He noted that the village has received more than 20 proclamations from local governments on the 75th anniversary.
Council President Jennifer Mitchell Earley brought up various concerns with the 75th anniversary celebration. She said that the village has several other major expenditures, including nearly $300,000 for widening Chagrin Boulevard in 2020, the current cost to renovate Village Hall that has risen to more than $700,000 and a future project to replace the roof of Village Hall for $14,000. She added that council already approved $20,000 for the summer festival.
Ms. Earley added that council preferred to have the anniversary celebration at the summer music festival because of its accessibility to the residents and the large crowd that it would reach.
“There was a request to include this in the community festival because we have the largest amount of people, it’s free to our residents and community members and you can highlight whoever you would like to highlight at that time,” Ms. Earley said.
She ended the discussion by pointing out that Mayor Holbert’s proposal did not have enough support from council. To pass the ordinance after one reading instead of the required three readings, council would have needed to vote to suspend the rules with at least five votes. Since Councilman Tennyson Adams and Councilwoman Lisa Brockwell were absent, only five members were present. Ms. Earley and Ms. Todd-Miller said that they would not vote to suspend the rules, so the discussion ended with no vote.
Last week, Mayor Holbert said that he will probably not bring up the 75th anniversary again next month because there is not enough time to plan a celebration for the anniversary in November.
“We’re not going to have enough time to plan it,” he said. “I refuse to allow professionals who have talent and ability to be put in that position.”
Mayor Holbert said that council has not offered a compromise for the anniversary celebration and said that their decision is “short sighted.”