Arcata Main Street failed to bill city $28K: Lapse discovered after organization began revitalization process

As Arcata Main Street works to restructure, a review of the organization's books found the city of Arcata wasn't billed for nearly $28,000 worth of services.

"It could be a quarter of our budget, so yeah, it's a big deal," AMS President David Neyra said. "The way the board looks at it, if we had all the facts, we may have made different decisions with regard to Oyster Fest."

According to city staff, the organization didn't bill Arcata for almost $19,000 worth of contracted services for fiscal year 2012-2013, and $9,000 worth of services for the first half of this fiscal year.

"For the previous fiscal year, for whatever reason, they didn't invoice on the contract for the work that they did that year," Arcata's Community Development Deputy Director David Loya said. "Clearly, it was an oversight. A pretty significant one for an organization with a budget that small."

Neyra said the issue was discovered while the organization was working with management consulting company Greenway Partners.

"It was absent from the ledger, so we never knew it was being billed or not being billed," Neyra said.

Greenway Partners was hired in November to help revitalize AMS after the previous executive director was laid off.

The organization is looking to bounce back from backlash suffered after a decision to fence off the Plaza and charge admission to last year's Oyster Festival.

While it's unclear why the lapse in billing occurred, "there is adequate record showing that the services were performed," according to a letter to the city written by Greenway project manager Debi Farber-Bush.

Farber-Bush confirmed Tuesday that AMS has been paid in full.

The consulting company is now working with the organization to add more board members, and to build an advisory board.

"They should be self-sufficient right after Oyster Festival," Farber-Bush said.

She added Greenway will plan the annual event this year.

The focus will be on the region's aquaculture, businesses, breweries, food and music.

"We're going to bring back the local twist," she said.

Greenway submitted a preliminary logistics plan to the city on Tuesday after surveying businesses and incorporating their input.

"We did what we thought will work best to manage the crowd, be peaceful and have everybody have a good time," Farber-Bush. "We've put a lot of thought into it, our team here at Greenway. We'll probably hold a press conference when we get our logistics plan approved."

Lorna Rodriguez can be reached at 441-0506 or lrodriguez@times-standard.com. Follow her on Twitter @LornaARodriguez.

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