Have our Strawberry Festivals been generating additional income to our city’s coffers or has it been operating in the Red and a financial liability? This question has become additionally prevalent when records provided by the city verified that the city used approximately $19,000 in “Petty Cash” to operate this year’s Strawberry Festival, and that after the Festival the City Council was asked to approve this this expenditure without any explanation. Sounds like Grand Jury fodder to me.
At our previous city council meeting I inquired about 4 checks totaling over $20,000 for “Petty Cash”. I received a response from our Finance Director explaining that $10,450.00 of it was to pay 3 bands that performed at this year’s Strawberry Festival. Banda Autentica de Jerez was paid with 70 one-hundred dollar bills, Los Grandes de Tijuana was paid with 30 one-hundred dollar bills, and Mariachi Salinas de Martin Alcantar was paid with 4 one-hundred dollar bills and one fifty dollar bill.
The response prompted these additional questions to City Manager Carlos Palacios:
· Why couldn’t these bands accept checks?
· Other bands played at the Strawberry Festival. Were they also paid with cash money?
· The check, #182454, in the amount of $18,650 for the bands, Sodas, Parking and Sales was issued on July 27th, which is 10 days prior to the festival. When was the check cashed and who had the care, custody and control of the cash for the days preceding payment?
· Who handed out the 104 One-Hundred Dollar Bills and the one Fifty Dollar Bill to the Bands, on what date and to which individuals (names)?
· When was it agreed with the Bands that they would be paid with cash money?
Can you imagine how maybe conversations went when 104 one-hundred dollar bills were being handed out?