COLUMBIA, SC — Columbia’s Famously Hot New Year’s Eve 2014 party is $56,868 in the red.
On Tuesday, Columbia City Council voted 6-1 to give the New Year’s Eve street party $50,000 in hospitality tax money to help offset the debt and to start planning the 2015 party. Councilwoman Leona Plaugh was the lone “no” vote.
In council’s meeting, Mayor Steve Benjamin said the event had run a deficit but he did not say how much.
But a letter from the celebration’s organizing committee, provided to a reporter afterward, gave an itemized accounting of the debt. The largest amount was a $35,000 shortfall in ticket sales to the Crescent Lounge, a VIP room that cost $125 per person. The committee’s letter also said it had to pay an unexpected $14,868 in taxes to the S.C. Department of Revenue. That tax was protested, the letter said. The outcome of the protest was not included in the request for more money.
Despite the shortfall, the committee still said the event was a success.
“The primary reason for the shortfall is its own success,” the letter said. “The productivity of the prior year FHNY celebrations encouraged multiple venues to host competing VIP-type events that took away from FHNY2014 Crescent Lounge sales.”
The New Year’s street party has been held for four years, most recently at Main and Gervais streets in front of the State House. National and local bands perform and admission is free. Kool & the Gang headlined the 2014 party.
Benjamin said he wants to the event to continue its free admission.