Lindsay council hammers out details on city-run farmers’ market

City staff suggest spending $92,000 on full time Friday Night Market manager in time for 2022 season starting in March

LINDSAY – The Lindsay City Council haven’t officially decided on running the Friday Night Market themselves in 2022, but they are getting a strong feel for what it will take if they do.

City staff returned to the council with details of what it would take to host and run the beloved market during the Nov. 9 meeting, and the price tag is not small. City manager Joe Tanner said the total cost is just north of $340,000. Fortunately, the projected revenue is $369,600 leaving a potential profit of about $29,000.

The greatest source of friction though was whether the city should hire a full time market manager, or make it a part time position. Councilwoman Rosaena Sanchez questioned whether there was enough work for to justify a full time job. Tanner noted that there is plenty of work to go around, and added that part time positions suffer more turnover than full time positions.

“Especially in recreation, there’s one part time position where we’re on the third employee in two years. So we want to avoid that,” Tanner said.

Between salary and benefits, this position would take up $92,000 a year. There would be some additional personnel costs associated with the market as the staff would have to rework some responsibilities. A staff report notes that they would need a part time senior maintenance position and three other part time maintenance positions bringing the total personnel cost for the market to $134,244.

Sanchez’s question whether the position would have enough to do is not necessarily outlandish given that the market is seasonal. But this position would begin by organizing market vendors and spending the rest of their time focusing on recreation, wellness center events and city activities such as their Christmas gift giveaway.

“If you’re telling me, an assistant for Lisa [Davis, Wellness Center director]…and that person will take care of the farmers market 100%. Okay,” Sanchez said.

Recently promoted City Services Director, Neyba Amecuza, reminded the council that seasonal part time positions in the past led to some losses at McDermont.

“In the past when we were building McDermont and the Wellness Center, if you recall, we had a lot of seasonal employees, and a lot of the equipment would just walk away. So we would avoid that by having a full time person because we would have someone reliable,” Amecuza said.

Tanner said that staff would bring a finalized job description to council at a future meeting if they wanted to approve that route for the future of the market.

Other costs for the market include contracted security staff, entertainment with a DJ, legal risk review, trash services with Mid Valley Disposal, marketing, street sweeping and Porta Potty rentals totaling $126,439.69. Tanner also set aside a $15,000 contingency budget, brining the full total to $340,285.21.

The city expects to make the bulk of their market review in booths and food vendors, projected at $192,000 and $168,000 respectively. They also expect to make $9,600 from their beer garden.

This isn’t the only avenue the city council has in front of them. The council could elect to issue a request for proposal (RFP) to accept bids to run the market. A benefit the city could see in securing a contract with a new operator is re-negotiating the existing market operator contract they have with Jimora Enterprises to increase the revenue the city receives per market session. The city could see challenges in finding a new market operator because of COVID-19 and limitations on large-scale events. And Lindsay could possibly see a delay in securing a contract in time to continue the market in its regular season in March.

The initial contract between the city and Jimora Enterprises was signed on April 26, 2019 and lasted for two years where either Lindsay or Jimora could renew the agreement or terminate the contract. Due to the conditions created by COVID-19, an amendment was approved on June 23, 2020 where the city modified the payment schedule for Jimora Enterprises to $1,000 from $2,000 per market session. If the council chooses to negotiate a new contract with Jimora Enterprises, the city will see little to no changes in the flow of operations or timeliness of the Friday Night Market and can negotiate new contract terms.

Jimora Enterprises stated that they were having trouble during COVID to help their vendors. Last month, they sent their representative Susana Mora to lobby for extending the market season to help their vendors recoup lost revenue during the pandemic. Unfortunately, businesses in downtown would not abide a November to February extension or change in hours.

At first Jimora Enterprises said they wanted to hold the market in Centennial Park from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mora reversed course after her vendors said that it would be difficult for them to get their booths and trailers in and out of the park. In particular if it was to rain at some point during the week. Mora suggested that they keep the market in downtown, but contain it to Sweetbriar Plaza as opposed to obstructing traffic by putting vendors on the street. But when the city polled business owners, many were decidedly against all of it.

According to a Lindsay city staff report, 64% of business owners did not want to extend the market through the winter months of November through February. And 58% were not in favor of the modified hours of operation changing to 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. If the council were to approve an extension—they didn’t—the business owners were 75% in favor of having it at Sweetbriar Plaza and not on the roadway.

“The majority said no, overwhelmingly. I think our job is to protect and preserve our local businesses.” Lindsay councilman, Angel Cerros said. “But I think our role here is to look out for Lindsay and its residents and its businesses.”

One business owner who spoke at Lindsay’s Oct. 26 meeting said that she owns a business in town and has put cones in the parking stalls outside of her store to prevent vendors from the market from setting up too early and obstructing her customers. She added that she has been toying with the idea of expanding into a second location, but it would also be affected by the market, which has made her hesitant.

“I would like my local businesses to be allowed to open up and try and sell what they can so that they can make some kind of income during those local holidays as well. So, that’s why my decision is no,” Mayor Ramona Caudillo said.

When the item came up to a vote, it died due to lack of a motion, ending talks of a winter extension.

Start typing and press Enter to search