Mr. Robbins, Mayor and Commissioners,
My name is Brian Kelly. I have lived in Key West full-time since late 2003. I would like to throw my two cents in on this subject. Every few years, I attend the Fantasy Fest parade, culminating the end of the largest invasion of my town. I am not offended by the raucous parties nor the varying degrees of dress, or more appropriately, undress. I am grossed out, however, by the grandmas and grandpas that manage to lose their inhibitions, as well as their clothes, when they come to Key West.
What I am offended by is what has come to my attention the last couple years, and that is how much the City of Key West subsidizes this event. These are tax dollars being used to throw this huge party which only benefits the hotels, bars and restaurants. This event does NOT benefit me, it just costs me more if I want to go out to dinner or to have a cocktail.
I find it very disingenuous that the TDA says they cannot afford to pay for the expense of throwing this party. If the owners/organizers of ANY event, particularly Fantasy Fest, can’t or don’t turn a big enough profit, perhaps this should be turned over to another organization that is capable of covering the expenses AND making a profit. This is assuming the City would want to keep this event. As I to understand, Fantasy Fest was created to help businesses in what was the slowest part of the year. The fact of the matter now is there is rarely a slow week in Key West anymore. From my perspective Key West doesn’t need FantasyFest.
Since this event does not benefit me in any way, I have a problem with my tax dollars subsidizing a for-profit event. Perhaps the hotels, bars and restaurants, that increase their already high prices during this time, should pay for the expenses. One thing I would agree with Mr. Robbins on, the city should not charge the organizers any bogus expenses that are not directly related to the event.
I have a budget I have to live within. If I can’t afford to attend an event or throw a party, I don’t. That’s just good, prudent business sense. The City has shown on way too many occasions, it has no idea what that means. Maybe it’s time for both the TDA and the City to learn. Thank you.