As you will read in this week’s edition, taxpayers will end up paying about $3,200 for costs associated with the Good Vibrations motorcycle rally this past summer.
It’s not a lot of money in the scheme of the budget, and with big events come the need for more security (most of the cost is associated with police overtime).
But it says a lot about the Keizer City Council’s priorities.
For months we’ve heard the sound of violins at city hall: Serious discussion of police layoffs, no money for the volunteer-led library, no funds to string up holiday lights along River Road, cuts to police training, etc. There’s also been chatter that water rates could be raised for the second year in a row next year.
We do, however, have enough money to pay off a breakfast tab for visiting bikers (about $300 after donations via the Good Vibrations Task Force fell short). And pay (now or later) 14 police officers to guard the parade of motorcycles from Keizer to Salem.
Bringing an event like Good Vibrations is a boost for tourism. But anecdotal evidence suggests the parade from Keizer to Salem is a good illustration for what happened: Motorcyclists slept at Keizer’s only hotel, then drove a few miles south – past Keizer’s business community – to the beer garden and other Good Vibrations festivities on the Salem waterfront.
Who could blame Good Vibrations organizers and attendees? The city waived fees estimated at $1,600 to print brochures about the community, allowed the group free reign of our civic center, amphitheater and parks. Heck, we even bought them breakfast.
It’s strange: We essentially paid people well-off enough to (a) own a motorcycle and (b) have the time and money to travel to a motorcycle rally to come visit us, even as we shrug off promoting literacy, access to the information superhighway and dressing up our town for the holidays.
We wanted to roll out the red carpet for people who came to visit. That we did. Next time, let’s break off a piece for those who decided to stay.