Artober profit?

While Bellevue's director of administrative services thinks the Artober Fest benefit raised about $6,500 to benefit a proposed skate plaza in Bayne Park, officials have some serious questions about the unauthorized expenditure of almost that much to put on the event.

DAS Doug Sample told council members last week that the event grossed about $12,500, apparently including a $5,000 matching grant from Allegheny General Hospital. Sample said about $6,000 was spent on the event.

Mayor George Doscher and council members Linda Woshner and Jane Braunlich asked where administrators had gotten the authority to spend that much money without council approval, given that council as a whole had approved only the purchase of banners and the former assistant DAS's time, and committees can approve no more than $1,000 in expenditures without going to council as a whole.

Sample said that they had used donated funds to pay for items, so had bypassed council approval for such expenditures as $600 for a band, $800 for a sound system, $900 for t-shirts that were never used due to the poor weather, and more than $2,000 that was paid to two private citizens as reimbursement for items they purchased at Sam's Club.

Officials pointed out that any funds donated were donated to the borough, not for the use of specific administrators, and required council approval to spend.

"It doesn't matter if you got a million dollars in sponsorships," Braunlich said, the money could not be spent without a vote of council.

Doscher said that administrators took a big chance spending as much as they had without any guarantee they would make enough to cover the cost. He also questioned whether that much money had been made, given that there has been no calculation of how much employee time was invested in the project.

A steady downpour of rain and temperatures in the 40s curtailed most of the outdoor activities planned for a closed-off portion of Lincoln Avenue. The evening art/wine crawl was more successful, and council member Mark Panichella said that he was ashamed that council had not thought to thank the organizers. "It was a delightful evening," he said.

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