NORTH OGDEN -- It looks like the city council won't vote on the staff-canceled Miss Cherry Days pageant after all.
Finance Director Debbie Cardenas explained in a recent council meeting that the staff could make changes within departments if it didn't require further expenditures.
Because canceling the pageant would save the city the budgeted $9,000, by state statute, the staff didn't have to approach the council about the cancellation, Cardenas said.
"It was an administrative decision, and I made it," said Mayor Richard Harris.
The staff decided in early April to cancel the pageant to help the city's depleted revenue situation in this fiscal year, and proposed cutting the pageant next year.
Girls had already signed up for the pageant, and pictures were scheduled the second week of April. The staff wanted to save the girls the cost of the pictures if the pageant was to be canceled, so staff made the decision before approaching the council.
The city council voted to cancel the 2010 pageant in spring 2010 because of the small number of North Ogden girls participating. The council then set up strict guidelines for this year's pageant.
Those guidelines were met to make the pageant a go, but when city revenues and property taxes came in so low, many budget items started getting cut, including the pageant.
Cardenas said in a phone interview that the decision was partly the result of the pageant not being budgeted for 2012 -- if there were a new Miss Cherry Days this year, she would have no one to pass her crown to, which was a huge issue when the pageant was canceled last year.
City Councilman Wade Bigler took issue with the decision at a recent council meeting, saying the council voted against having the pageant last year, but put it back into the budget for this year.
He said he voted against having the pageant last year and that he has been against the city funding the event.
However, the council did vote to have it in the budget, and Bigler said, "There are things being said that it was the council's decision (to cancel the pageant), and I want it made clear that it wasn't. This is kind of getting blamed on us."
Bigler said he wants more items made public with the council instead of being decided by staff and brought to the council later.
He also mentioned the proposal and decision by staff to cut Cherry Days next year and have it privately funded. He would like to have more dialogue in a public forum with the council.
Harris said several times in the meeting that he was willing to take the blame for the pageant being canceled this year.
"We are stripped down pretty tight in our city. There is no fat," he said.
Miss Cherry Days pageant director Melanie Shelton has been working with local businesses to try to get a pageant together by September, but said it was just not enough time to pull together the needed money.
She plans to have a pageant next year, but it will not necessarily be affiliated with Cherry Days or North Ogden and will include the cities that feed into Weber High School.