Friday Night Market management still up for grabs despite late payment

Lindsay Chamber offers City half of back payment with promise to repay the rest by Feb. 27 in last ditch effort to keep Friday Night Market

By Paul Myers @PaulM_SGN

LINDSAY – The Lindsay Chamber of Commerce is doing their best to make things right with the City of Lindsay with the traditional start of the Friday Night Market season rapidly approaching. But the last ditch effort to keep the market under their management appears futile.

In an unscheduled move Lindsay Chamber of Commerce executive director Virginia Loya graciously presented city manager Bill Zigler with a check of $10,000 during the Feb. 12 City Council meeting. The check is half the amount the chamber owes after falling $20,000 behind on a contract they signed with the City in exchange for hosting the market for 2017 and 2018. 

During the rest of her time at public comment she distributed a letter to the City Council and staff noting their members have shone support for the chamber and the market. 

“Following the Council’s unexpected action taken at its last meeting on Jan. 22, we received an overwhelming outpouring of support from our chamber members, vendors, customers and residents…for our continuing to operate as the manager of the Lindsay Friday Night Market,” the letter stated.

The letter went on to say the chamber had received offerings of financial support from venders, members, customers and even businesses who they say benefit from the business they receive from the market. 

“I am pleased to deliver our check for $10,000 to the City Council as the first payment toward bringing our account current,” Loya stated during the council meeting. 

Loya added the chamber would deliver the rest of their back payments, “no later than Feb. 27.” Bringing their account back to balance might be a last-ditch effort to keep the market in their possession two days before the traditional start to the season on March 1. But despite their efforts, it appears to be too little, too late. 

Initially the contract, signed between the chamber and City in March 2017, stated the chamber would pay $2,000 per week to the City for the cost of using the vast majority the downtown streets and amenities. By the end of the first year the chamber was $8,000 behind on payments, and by the end of the 2018 market season they claimed to $17,000 behind, despite the City waiving at $500 per week second year increase.

After some dispute Lindsay finance director Bret Harmon confidently said the chamber was not $17,000 behind on their payments, they were $20,000 behind. 

By the end of the 2018 Friday Night Market season the City stood firm the chamber had breached their contract after several late payments and ignored notices. At their Jan. 22 meeting the Council agreed with staff to issue a request for proposal (RFP) to see if any organizations would want to take on the Friday Night Market. According to the RFP, the City will be reviewing responses on March 1, hearing oral interviews by March 6, present the selected organization to the Council during their March 12 meeting and begin the market season on March 29. 

The City will evaluate proposals on: their individual quality; ability, capacity and skill to provide services; ability to help the market prosper; the character, integrity, judgment, experience and efficiency of the provider; the quality of the provider’s performance on previous contract with the City; revenue sharing with the City.

Each criterion is graded on a 15-point scale except for the final two items that are weighted on a 20-point scale. And while the chamber can submit a proposal for consideration, it is not likely they will score well on the most weighted parts of the criteria given their recent history.

When asked whether a full, albeit late, payment will make a difference in the RFP process, Harmon said the process is going to continue regardless. Although, he added that the chamber still has the option to submit a bid.

Late last month Loya said that without the market pulling in thousands per week during the season, the chamber is not likely going to survive. She noted the market makes up approximately 85% of the organization’s revenue.

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