Entertainment Escambia County

SRIA vendetta against DeLuna Fest continues

January 11, 2012

The daily newspaper published on its front page what they describe as a dispute between the DeLuna Fest organizers and the Santa Rosa Island Authority over whether the tickets included sponsorship packages should be taxed any the SRIA. Rather than meet with the organizers the SRIA chose to use the media to make its case….maybe in hopes of distracting the public from how badly the SRIA has handled the natural gas issue on the beach (the IN news story in tomorrow’s paper).

I interviewed Scott Mitchell of Five Flags Tourism Group, who owns DeLuna Fest, and he said that he received an email from the SRIA on December 4 for the disputed amount -$15,670. There was no supporting documentation. Mitchell said it took three or four days to get the auditors’ report. When he tried to set at meeting with Buck Lee, the SRIA general manager, Mitchell was told Lee had gone hunting and wouldn’t be available until after the first of the year.

After not hearing anything last week from the SRIA, Mitchell called on Monday, Jan. 9 to set up a meeting – which the SRIA set for next week. Mitchell was surprised that the daily newspaper called him about the article before his attorney and accountants had an opportunity to meet with the SRIA.

Mitchell pointed out to me a clause in its agreement with the SRIA that states that sponsorship packets are exempt from the SRIA tax. He believes he has grounds to fight the $15K assessment.

A company spends over $5 million in the past two years, fills hotel rooms, packs beach businesses and brings over 70,000 people to the beach in October—-and this is how the SRIA treats them.

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  • jeeperman January 26, 2012 at 9:13 am

    “SRIA runs on favors and personal whims. Ask locals how McGuire Martin got away with anything he wanted, running off competitors. It’s an insider’s game on Pensacola Beach.”

    Finally, a journalist that actually tells it like it really is. The same goes for Escambia County.

  • Dave January 25, 2012 at 10:39 pm

    Thursday the Santa Rosa Island Authority will make an announcement about a new concert on Pensacola Beach.

    From the PNJ – The SRIA has partnered with “Bonfire Jam” Promoter Joe Lewis for the event… Back in October both sides said they would split expenses 50-50 and the Island Authority will get 25 % of any profits.

    Wow, really… why can’t the SRIA Gestapo work with the Deluna Fest folks like this??

    • Rick Outzen January 26, 2012 at 6:01 am

      SRIA runs on favors and personal whims. Ask locals how McGuire Martin got away with anything he wanted, running off competitors. It’s an insider’s game on Pensacola Beach.

  • eric January 13, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    Any response from Mitchell that Rick wants to share now that other parties have been interviewed and published in the daily?

    The 15K SRIA money seems to be only part of the pattern of Deluna Fest organizers.

    What I don’t get is the organizer spokesperson has the audacity to say that she’s not disclosing how the 540K BP marketing money was spent. What fools the county comm was to give them that money without repoting requirements.

    Well, should we have a moment of silence for the end of Deluna Fest? They won’t be able to get any vendors to perform services for them in the future.

  • al January 12, 2012 at 8:41 pm

    The festival does wonders and will increase attendance as it grows it’s name across the country and internationally like bonnaroo, Ultra, Voodoo. SRAI should be helping DeLuna grow instead of charging them $15k. Milking the cows dry.

  • eric January 11, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    I disagree with you on this issue Rick. The SRIA seemed to be more than fair by allowing public access to be blocked and providing a reduction in fees for usage, at the loss of tax revenue for County taxpayers.

    I enjoyed Deluna Fest, will attend again, but at the same time the organizers should have been more forthright with accounting. How was the 500K BP money, taxpayer money, really spent?

    The article is not clear how much time lapsed between the email Mitchell received on Dec 4th and his attempt to contact Buck Lee. If he waited until Dec 20th or so, Buck being out of town until the New year makes sense. Had the contact been attempted Dec 5th, it does not.

    I do agree that airing these issues in the daily before contacting the organizers is poor communication; however, receiving taxpayer subsidies for the event places a burden on the organizers for full-disclosure and timely reporting of the event results. just my opinion….

  • jimbob January 11, 2012 at 4:12 pm

    why is the SRIA hating on DeLunaFest?

  • jimbob January 11, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    Great catch Rick. SRIA has fought DeLunaFest at every turn. They should not be charging one plug nickel to an event that fills hotels and restaurants during the shoulder season. Abolish the SRIA – long overdue. Who is pulling Buck’s strings on this, Reeves, McGuire?