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Paring down spending for sesquicentennial celebration

Robert Houk • Updated Jan 16, 2019 at 10:53 AM

The Sesquicentennial Commission did some prioritizing Tuesday to narrow down a list of events to be funded by $100,000 earmarked by the Johnson City Commission. The group agreed more math and planning was needed if it is to stay under budget for the city’s 150th anniversary celebration.

Sesquicentennial commissioners voted to hold a workshop to further cull the list, which currently stands at more than $101,750 following two hours of work. Even so, members said that figure doesn’t reflect the fact that several of the items included in the preliminary funding list are designed to “pay for themselves.”

That includes a black-tie “Legacy Birthday Celebration” that is scheduled to help wrap up the year-long celebration in November. Tickets to the event are $250 a couple, and will go to cover the estimated $30,000 cost of the banquet.

“This will be self sustaining,” Commissioner Marcy Walker said.

She also noted the dinner would be followed by a public closing ceremony days later that will see the city bury a time capsule at Legacy Circle in King Commons. The commission has tentatively budgeted $5,000 for the Dec. 1 event, which is the exact date of the 150th anniversary of the city’s municipal charter.

Commissioner Dianna Cantler said the closing ceremony would be a “multi-generational” event that will attract families downtown.” She said children who attend the time capsule’s burial can say, “I remember that,” when it is opened in 50 years.

The commission has already spent $10,000 of the $100,000 approved by the City Commission last year for the celebration. Some of that amount went to the celebration’s kickoff and unveiling of a 1969 time capsule earlier this month. The Sesquicentennial Commission also proceeded Tuesday on spending $3,500 to purchase 53 vinyl celebration banners for the downtown area.

Commissioners also heard a presentation from filmmaker Josh Mancuso to produce 12 short monthly videos, as well as a 45-minute feature, to highlight the city’s history and the sesquicentennial celebration. He said the estimated market price for the package was $132,000, but told commissioners he would offer the videos at a “we love our city price” of $95,000.

Members of the commission said they would consider the proposal when they gather for a workshop to nail down the funding list for the celebration.

Commissioner Joy Fulkerson, who kicked off the work to prioritize items to be funded for the celebration, told her colleagues it was important to keep the public in mind in deciding what events should make the funding list. She said sesquicentennial events that promote citizen participation and involvement are “the kind of things we should put money into.”

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the Sesquicentennial Commission approved $35,000 to purchase 53 vinyl celebration banners for the downtown area.

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