DONALDSONVILLE - Just two weeks after the annual Juneteenth Freedom Festival was canceled for lack of funds, the City Council paved the way Wednesday for a smaller celebration to take place.
The council voted 4-0, with Councilman Charles Brown Sr. absent, to allow use of the city’s Louisiana Square park for a Juneteenth celebration from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. June 25.
Tamiko Francis Garrison, organizer of the event, had asked the council to contribute $2,000 to help secure a musical performer.
However, Council Chairman Raymond Aucoin said that with the city’s current financial struggles, the council could not contribute any money to the Juneteenth program.
“We’ve already had to pull our funding for the July 3 fireworks event and the Christmas parade,” Aucoin said. “We can’t donate money, but we can do an in-kind donation.”
While Garrison said she would secure funding from other sources, both Councilman Lauthaught Delany Sr. and City Attorney Chuck Long said they would donate money toward the event.
Garrison, whose mother is credited with organizing the city’s first Juneteenth celebration, said she did not want to see the tradition lost.
“This event does bring revenue to the city,” Garrison said. “We can’t do a big celebration, but we want to bring this back to basics and make it a family picnic-style event.”
River Road African American Museum Executive Director Kathe Hambrick Jackson announced on May 31 the cancellation of this year’s Juneteenth Freedom Festival for the first time in its 17-year history.
Jackson blamed the cancellation on a $50,000 decrease in the museum’s revenue from parish hotel-motel revenues. Instead of $75,000, Jackson said, the museum would get $25,000 this year in hotel-motel tax revenues.
The revenue decrease directly affected the museum’s ability to match grant funding, she said.
Mayor Leroy Sullivan Sr. said the city had no part in the museum event’s cancellation, but that he agreed with continued recognition of the occasion.
Other matters taken up by the council included:
BUDGET APPROVALS: The council voted to adopt its operating budget for the 2011-12 fiscal year, which begins July 1, and its amended 2010-11 budget.
Next year’s budget calls for general fund revenues of $3.338 million, with expenses of $3.336 million.