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Officials near agreement to keep Bike Week in Sandusky

Andy Ouriel • Oct 25, 2011 at 5:06 PM

City commissioners and a festival organizer are inching toward an agreement to keep Ohio Bike Week in Sandusky for the foreseeable future.

A financial roadblock, however, is detouring the deal’s completion.

Advantage Entertainment — Ohio Bike Week’s organizing entity — proposed a five-year agreement with city commissioners in late September.

The deal included Advantage committing $10,000 a year for the next five years to offset the city’s expenses for police security, fire rescue and street department workers assisting in the party’s setup. Commissioners refused to agree to the deal, many of them insisting on more of an up-front commitment from Advantage.

In 2011, Ohio Bike Week cost the city $19,000. But the benefits reaped from the festival are a huge gain to the city, Advantage president Steve Ernst said.

“The event has an economic impact far exceeding the (cost) contribution,” Ernst said.

But while Ohio Bike Week boosts the city’s income from sales and lodging taxes, commissioners say they need more money so taxpayers are spared from paying the difference.

Ernst upped his offer to $15,000 Monday, but city officials were still uneasy.

City finance director Hank Solowiej wants Advantage to pony up at least $17,500.

Depending on the amount agreed upon, taxpayers would be responsible for paying the difference.

For instance: If Ohio Bike Week’s downtown Sandusky portion costs $20,000 next summer, Advantage would commit $17,500 and taxpayers would pay $2,500.

“I’m a little uncomfortable,” commissioner Dick Brady said. “I’m OK with fixing a price, but I don’t think you fix a price at less (money) than what it costs. To me, that doesn’t make sense.”

Ernst said he’ll continue discussing the figures with city commissioners John Hamilton and Pervis Brown to finalize the deal.

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