Midnight ball drop could find support from brewery
By Josh Davis, Associate Editor
(April 11, 2019) Berlin Economic and Community Development Director Ivy Wells on Monday asked that the midnight New Year’s Eve ball drop be returned to the fiscal 2020 budget.
Town officials had ordered 10 percent budget cuts across all departments, and Wells more than complied the week before, when she introduced an economic development budget that was 11.31 percent, or about $36,000, less than the previous year’s spending.
Among the savings discussed was cutting the annual July 3 fireworks and its $10,000 cost, and possibly eliminating the $18,000 cost of a billboard on Route 50.
Also on the chopping block was the midnight New Year’s Eve ball drop, although the early evening New Year’s Eve celebration for children would remain.
“What I’d like to publicly say is to add the midnight New Year’s Eve ball drop back into my budget,” Wells said Monday. “Only about $1,000 comes out of my budget to pay for that event, so I would publicly like to request that to be added back.”
Wells said most of the cost for the event is paying staff overtime, which costs $8,000.
No decision was made, as budget adoption is still several months away, although another way might be available to save the event and the annual fireworks celebration.
Burley Oak Brewing Company initially had provided financial support for the fireworks and may be willing to do so again. It also might support the New Year’s Eve event, according to brewery owner Bryan Brushmiller.
“Burley Oak is happy to pay for it and always has been. Supporting the fireworks the first year felt great to bring that to our hometown,” Brushmiller said on Tuesday. “The ball drop is another important event that bolsters the town and we are happy to pay for it in full.”
Wells, also reached for comment on Tuesday, said she expects to work with both Burley Oak and the Berlin Chamber of Commerce “for future sponsor opportunities” across several events.
For instance, “The town pays for all the entertainment for Oktoberfest and the chamber holds the alcohol permit and profits from the beer sales,” she said. “Perhaps we could work toward the chamber donating back to the town to help with expenses.”