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By STEVEN NALLEY
Representatives from the Sturgis South Motorcycle Rally Board and the city of Sturgis have varying perspectives on the reasons the latest rally contract was denied in a 3-2 vote Tuesday.
The Sturgis Board of Aldermen rejected a rally board contract proposal which would have paid the city $8,500 toward such services as security, sanitation and trash pickup.
Alderman Wayne McCool made the motion to reject the contract, and his motion passed with McCool, Amanda Paige and Quinnia Yates in favor and Mike Collins and Keith Parker against.
Throughout the meeting, Paige, Yates and McCool raised concerns about the rallyâs ability to make enough money to pay the $8,500 and prevent the city from losing money. Sturgis Mayor Walter Turner refuted the three aldermenâs arguments, and he said he believed the contract would have worked.
âThe main reason I believed it would work was because it has worked for 13 years in the past,â Turner said. âThe town is able to work with its budget and make adjustments even before the rally starts. For example, if we see thereâs going to be a small crowd, we can cut back on the services â Porta-Potties, trash services and security. We can adjust before we even spend the money, before the rally. Even if thereâs some risk involved, which is minimal, the town needs to look at the greater good for the whole community and the surrounding area, including Starkville.â
Rally board Vice President George Jones said his board hopes to have a public statement on the issue next week, but the rallyâs next move is uncertain. He said the contract needs to happen before April ends to make the 2012 rally happen, and if the rally does not return in 2012, it would be infeasible for it to return later.
Jones said the vote did not surprise him because the three aldermen who rejected the contract have created difficulties for the rally over the last few years.
âThey pretty much told us they were afraid they couldnât get the $8,500,â Jones said. âOffering them more money if they think they canât get the $8,500 wouldnât work. Weâre all under the impression that if they did not take the offer we offered them â which was their counteroffer last year â (then) the three that voted against it ... just donât want the rally, and thereâs nothing we can do about it in the town of Sturgis.â
McCool said it is not true that he opposes the rally, nor was it true he wanted a guarantee the city would make money off the rally.
âWe told Walter if we broke even, we were fine with it, but by the numbers he presented, there was no chance we would break even,â McCool said. âWhat we weâre afraid of is we werenât going to get enough to cover the expenses. They can only pay us if they make a profit. We have to foot the bill until itâs over with. Iâm all for it if thereâs a way it could be proved we could at least break even.
âI donât believe the rally or the town will make enough in vendor fees or RV sales,â McCool added. âLast year, it was cancelled. The attendance is not going to be like it was.â
Shortly after the meeting, McCool said he also disagreed with Turnerâs claim that the city of Sturgis has never lost money on the rally.
âI can show you where we lost $3,500 last year,â McCool said.
Rally board President Donny Hanson said he supported Turnerâs claim.
âThe town has never lost any money on the rally,â Hanson said. âThe rally board, on the other hand, has lost money a couple of years. The rally board has done everything it can do to keep the rally going, and we have run into roadblocks from the town board on everything we could have done. Weâre the ones going out on a limb. Itâs not them.â