The La Mesa Oktoberfest has been a La Mesa Village fall tradition for many years. As the cost of running a city increased with fewer spare dollars to go around, local event organizers were required to pay for the costs of city expenses in producing the event. This was substantial and cut into the after expense revenues of the primary event organizer. Unfortunately, years of mismanagement and squabbling between local merchant groups and the city about who would pay for what, had left the taxpayers holding the financial bag more than once. This last year the unpleasant oom-pah band tune of $47,000 is still owed.  What is the status on that collection?

Earlier this year the city council approved the use of city resources for this year’s Oktoberfest event production. The end result is that the city has approved a plan to outsource the event management to a private firm that came through open requests for proposals. This new plan still has the city incurring unrecoverable expenses the first year, but the hope is that with a an opportunity for profit, the event organizer can satisfy the requirements of the city, local merchants and residents, and make a buck, all without the taxpayers taking a hit! Let us be clear, we prefer the event be run by the private sector merchants. However, we also did not like that the $100k or so per year of beer garden sales profit disappeared to “wherever” and was not being used to pay off city event costs.

Now, the contract with the event organizer will require a full financial disclosure that the public can see (at least so says the city attorney).  If this new plan proves successful over the next year or two, we hope the local merchants will get their collective act together, pay their debt to the taxpayers, and reacquire the event so city staff can get back to their core functions. We prefer the city do only those things a municipality must do.

We give this plan a qualified okay; everyone all be watching!

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