City cops owed $5k by Lift-Off, chief says he might require cash up front this year

City cops owed $5k by Lift-Off, chief says he might require cash up front this year
The Cornwall police service is still owed as much as $5

CORNWALL, Ontario – The Cornwall police service is still owed as much as $5,000 for providing security for Cornwall Lift-Off last year and the chief says his agency would think long and hard about providing security this year unless the bill is paid.

Chief Dan Parkinson confirmed Thursday to Seaway News the police service staffed the 2014 event with about 10 constables over the course of the four-day event, racking up a bill of up to $5,000 that remains unpaid.

Parkinson said the bill shows up as an “unpaid receivable” in the 2014 budget, and because officers have been paid for their work taxpayers are now indirectly on the hook for that amount.

“I think we’re almost talking about a cash-up-front basis,” Parkinson said of any security requests for the 2015 Lift-Off event. “We will have to consider (staffing the event) based on bill payment.”

Officers typically patrol Lamoureux Park during Lift-Off, paying special attention to the beer tent area, among other locales.

Terry Muir, the new chair of Lift-Off, was surprised to learn of the chief’s comments.

“I’m very shocked,” he said. “It’s not secret the festival is struggling. The intention is to pay all debts.

“We’re trying to satisfy as many (accounts) as possible but also assure that the event goes forward this year.”

A copy of the Cornwall Lift-Off Hot-Air Balloon Festival’s draft budget, obtained by Seaway News, suggests organizers were at one point forecasting a small deficit this year of $8,100 – with $646,250 in revenue coming in, but estimates of $654,350 in expenses.

Muir suggested the document provided to this newspaper is a working document, and doesn’t represent the final plan for 2015.

Instead, he suggested the Lift-Off board is continuing to make changes to its budget to mitigate expenses and pay down debt.

Part of the 2015 expenses, according to the draft budget document, is some $67,050 in administrative costs that also includes previous debt accumulated by the festival.

Just how much trimming the board will have to do, and what it will mean for the final product, is unclear.

Lift-Off has set aside July 9-12 for its 2015 event in Lamoureux Park.

When asked if the festival will go ahead this year, Muir suggested common ground will have to be found.

“It will depend on how organizations such as the Cornwall police service, work with the event,” he said. “(If) everyone gives us some breathing room there will be an event.”

The Kinsmen Club of Cornwall will no longer be the title sponsor for Lift-Off, ending a relationship with the festival that dates back a few years in that capacity.

But the Kinsmen Club is expected to continue to partner with Lift-Off in another capacity and a new title sponsor will be named.

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