Tensions rise over Concert in the Cornfield contracts

By Ryne Turke on February 5, 2015 at 10:29pm

Local boyscouts sit in on South Jacksonville meeting

Concert agreements for the 2015 Concert in the Cornfield were approved by South Jacksonville board members last night, but it wasn’t an easy task.

According to the contract, the headliner will receive $40,000 and the broker will get $4,000. Additional costs for the concert include an opening act, sound stage and stage unit.

Village President Gordon Jumper says the terms and conditions of the current contract will save the village over $20,000 from last year’s price.

Not all the trustee members were on board with the contract though. Kem Wilson voiced her concerns on the matter.

“First of all I believe it is done behind closed doors, it is never brought to a committee and things are discussed before our trustees have any knowledge about it,” says Wilson.

“I feel like sometime its just jammed down our throat. We didn’t know anything about this deadline and there was no discussion with the board about it before tonight. We have gone in the hole every single year and I think we need to have a committee meeting to talk about these things.”

Jumper says the lengthy discussion allowed for details to be clarified about the contracts. He feels the most common issue with the Concert in the Cornfield revolves around understanding the nature and funding of the event.

“There is a presumption on the part of many and some board members that all the money we spend comes out of the general fund. This particular project is funded by ticket sales, beverage sales, food sales, merchandise sales and a contribution has been made over the last few year’s from the tourism fund. That is funded by the hotel and motel tax,” says Jumper.

“The expenditures are prescribed to be limited to those expenditures that bring people from outside the community, into the community.”

Jumper adds that the entire community benefits from the annual concert.

“We are bringing in people from around the community and outside the state. I think most hospitality vendors like hotels, restaurants and bars are happy when the concert comes because they all prosper from that two night event,” says Jumper.

“The money made available for the concert is being spent out of restricted funds that are just for these type of events.”

Before the meeting got underway, Robert Strang addressed the board to discuss annexation of an eight-acre piece of land that he and his wife Janet purchased, west of Diamond and south of Victoria.

As part of the comprehensive plan, the board asked for Strang to provide 40 feet of right-of-way and two 15 foot utility easements. This would allow for the extension of Orlando from its current location to an intersection at Vandalia. The same right-of way would be asked for the south side of the property.

Jumper says that Strang was hesitant in giving up that much property to the village without compensation.

“We are not asking for any title to any land. We are simply asking for a surface right-of-way to build a road in the future and public utility easements to build water and sewer lines in the future,” says Jumper.

“Frankly, unless they anticipate on developing the property, it is unlikely there will be a road built or public utilities installed.”

Whatever decision the Strang’s make will be reviewed by the Plans Commission.