Sonora officials cancel August Magic of the Night event due to staffing shortages | New
City of Sonora officials canceled the popular annual Magic of the Night car show and street festival downtown this summer due to limited staff and other projects needing attention.
Rachelle Kellogg, the city’s director of community development, announced the cancellation of the event Tuesday night while addressing the Sonora City Council at the end of a public meeting.
“We have so many deadlines that we’re pushing back against the status reports, projects, and deadlines that we’re trying to meet, there’s just no way for us to get Magic together this year,” she said. declared. “I hope next year we can regroup and see how we can make it happen. But this year, with such limited staff and so much responsibility, we just don’t have time to commit.
Kellogg’s department currently has only two full-time employees – herself and community development specialist Kim Campbell. A full-time special programs coordinator position who was previously responsible for organizing city events was cut from the budget two years ago.
Other responsibilities of the Community Development Department include overseeing all land use planning and construction in the city, economic development, and grant writing.
“We’re really short-staffed here,” Kellogg said. “Often there is only one of us if one of us is missing.”
Magic of the Night was founded by Kellogg in 1997, when she was the city’s special programs coordinator. This is one of the main events the city holds each year, in addition to the Historic Downtown Sonora Christmas Parade in November.
Kellogg assured the board that Campbell would start working in the near future to get an encroachment permit from Caltrans for the Christmas parade in November, but they don’t have the resources to put Magic of the Night together by August. .
Mayor Mark Plummer asked if volunteers from the public could not be used as it was a city-run event, to which Kellogg replied that she thought the city needed to consider how it wanted to continue to hold such events in the future due to pressure on staff.
“When I got hired at the city, I did Opera, I did the special events, then I finally started writing grants and stuff for the city, but that was my job. “, she said, “and now we’re up to – there just aren’t enough of us to take them out in the future.
The Special Programs Coordinator position was previously funded largely by business license fees, although event management has increasingly required money from the city’s general fund to help subsidize costs.
It comes after the council received a financial outlook presentation from the city last month that projected budget shortfalls in coming years due to rising costs exceeding projected revenues.
City officials told the council at the time that it would be more difficult to balance the budget in the future due to the city cutting many positions since the 2008 recession, leaving little room for further staff reductions without reducing services to the public.