City negotiates Jubilee invoice down to $17,134, offer rejected

Published 8:00 pm Friday, February 24, 2017

Organizers of the annual Bridge Crossing Jubilee have rejected the city of Selma’s final offer to lower the cost they are charging for city services to hold the four-day event scheduled for March 2-5.

The city’s latest offer is for Jubilee organizers to pay $17,134.40 for police, fire and public works services. The original bill the city sent organizers was for $35,000. It was negotiated down to $23,000 earlier this week after Senator Hank Sanders said they weren’t going to pay that price.

“We are trying to work with them,” Melton said Friday. “We aren’t trying to stop their event, but they are not trying to work with us. We are not going to go back and forth with them about the city services we have to render. We have more issues and other things to deal with.”

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Melton said the city budgeted $5,000 for the Jubilee, but under the new offer the city would retain that money and charge organizers $17,000.

Faya Toure Sanders said the city’s offer for $17,000 came with the stipulation of dividing the street festival into two parts.

“That’s crazy. We’re not going to agree with that,” Sanders said. “They said they would only knock [the fee] down if we moved the festival. They said if we don’t move it, we can’t get to $17,000.”

Sanders said that was not a viable option for the Jubilee because they would have to section off two different areas.

“That’s just unacceptable,” Sanders said Friday. “It may have been half-way reasonable if they had not insisted on moving the festival.”

Traditionally, one stage has been located at Water Avenue and Washington Street, while the other was at the corner of Church Street and Water Avenue. The city’s new proposal would require the stage that was originally at Washington Street to be moved to the other side of the St. James Hotel near Lawrence Street.

“It would be hard to secure,” said Sam Walker, one of the Jubilee organizers. “We try to have a secure area for the festival so we can collect our admission, so if we moved it would be too hard to secure that and keep people from just being able to walk into the festival.”

The city estimated the Jubilee will require 510 hours of police man hours ($17,565.60), 48 hours of fire department man hours ($4,007.76) and 184 hours of public works man hours ($2,308.66), but that cost has been reduced.

The Jubilee estimated it needed $3,265.90 worth of services from the city in a list provided to the Times-Journal.

“I’m not sure what their plans are but we are not going to continue to drag this out with them.,” Melton said. “If that money is not received before the time for Jubilee, we will not provide those services.”

Sanders said the Jubilee has agreed to pay $9,400 for cleanup, the parade and other services, but they won’t pay anything more than that.

“For us to find out two weeks before the Jubilee, we feel like that is very reasonable,” Sanders said. “The Jubilee will go on full force ahead. We are going on with every activity.”

Sam Walker, one of the lead organizers of the Jubilee, said they will continue to work with the city to come to an agreement.

“We’re going to have the Jubilee, and we’re going to have the spaces that we’ve always had,” Walker said. “That’s our goal. We believe we’re going to get it worked out. We plan on continuing to negotiate with them until we get this resolved.”

Melton said earlier this week if the fees are not paid, then city streets will not be shut down for Jubilee events.

He said if city ordinances are violated he will defer to Selma Police Chief Spencer Collier.

Editor Justin Averette contributed to this report.