Panel sets Bikefest budget

January 20, 2007 

ATLANTIC BEACH - The Atlantic Beach Town Council on Friday approved a $100,000 preliminary budget for its annual Bikefest and appointed a 19-member committee to organize the event in place of a consulting company that lost $89,000 during last year's event.

Town Council members also said they will do away with the $10 admission fee that was implemented for the first time last year.

"A lot of people complained about it because they weren't used to paying," said council member Retha Pierce.

Instead, the town expects to rely on $30,000 in accommodations tax dollars from North Myrtle Beach, Myrtle Beach and Horry County as well as $70,000 in vendor fees. Approval for the $30,000 in tourism tax dollars is still pending, said Town Manager Marcia Conner.

The council's meeting Friday was called to approve the budget and appoint the committee, which is made up of residents, local property owners, small businesses, biker groups and potential sponsors.

"We're falling back on what has been tradition," said Mayor Irene Armstrong, about the return of a volunteer-based Bikefest planning committee.

Armstrong said the town has contracted out the organization of the Bikefest event three times, and "it hasn't worked."

Instead the committee members who have been appointed are people who have worked with Bikefest in the past, with a few new additions, Conner said.

In 2006, the town contracted with Entertainment Consortium to run Bikefest. Even with the new admission fees the company fell short of its $200,000 goal. The event brought in less than $133,000.

The festival, now in its 27th year, has attracted about 200,000 to 400,000 people to the Grand Strand each year for the past several years. It started as a 100-person event in 1980. This year's event will take place May 26-28, Conner said.

The newly appointed committee is expected to report to the council every two weeks. Their duties will include recommending vendor fees, hours of operation and policies related to the operation of Bikefest.

Fast fact

Atlantic Beach expects to rely on $30,000 in accommodations tax funds from North Myrtle Beach, Myrtle Beach and Horry County and another $70,000 in vendor fees to fund this year's Bikefest.

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