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Councilman unsure about $5,000 Amgen loan

Captain: Merchandise, fundraisers, sponsors expected to raise enough to pay city back
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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One Auburn City Council member shared some of his Amgen related doubts Monday night. The Auburn City Council unanimously approved a $5,000 loan from the city’s general fund to Auburn’s Amgen Tour of California Local Organizing Committee. However, Councilman Kevin Hanley expressed doubts about what the $5,000 would be used for and what role the city was playing in the organizing process. Hanley said he had concerns when the city of Auburn approved its $45,000 commitment to the tour, because of the tough economic times the city is going through. Hanley said it troubled him that the organization didn’t explain exactly what it would be doing with the loan. “We don’t even have a budget for the $5,000 here,” Hanley said. “So, I’m being asked to vote alone based on faith.” Auburn Police Capt. John Ruffcorn said the money is planned for costs associated with things like printing and paying for Amgen officials’ hotel rooms when they come to the city for meetings. Ruffcorn, chairman of the organizing committee, said it is the committee’s goal to raise $100,000, and he felt sure paying back the loan would not be a problem. The committee is planning to hold a fundraiser in February and also intends to sell Auburn merchandise in its local bicycle shops, Ruffcorn said. Councilwoman Bridget Powers said as the committee puts together its sponsor packets, she already knows people who want to get involved financially. “I actually have some sponsors already lined up that will accumulate to more than that $5,000, so I’m not worried we won’t have enough money to pay that loan back,” Powers said. Councilman Mike Holmes said the Downtown Business Association is planning to vote Tuesday morning on whether or not to approve a $5,000 donation to the committee. Hanley also expressed doubts that community members would get involved in Amgen as much as they should in the future, because the city is already taking such an active role as shown by Ruffcorn’s chair position. “I do want to express a concern that, and I’m not sure why, Captain, you are the chair of this committee,” Hanley said. “You are highly competent at what you do in the police realm, and I’m sure you are doing a great job in this capacity, too. But my concern has always been from the beginning that the city will take too much of a lead, rather than the business community and volunteers. And it concerns me that the next fundraiser is going to be in February for the race that is May 17. And we as the city, we are on the hook for $45,000, and we don’t have any money entering the toughest budget year in Auburn’s history.” Auburn Police Chief Valerie Harris said it is important for the city to be involved to some extent, because it is the first year Auburn will serve as a stage start for the race, and because the city did make the $45,000 commitment. Ruffcorn said he wouldn’t be involved in the fundraising aspect of the committee, so other members would have to take the lead on that. Hanley said he would have liked to see a report on the loan longer than one agenda page, and he hopes the committee will move forward with an exact budget plan in the near future. “We should have had a fundraiser in December and January,” Hanley said. “I’m going to vote for this, but I want to let everybody know I do have that concern.” Mayor Dr. Bill Kirby said he agreed that more detail should have been included in the agenda report and that fundraising should be taking place sooner than February. “It was almost as if, ‘You are all going to (vote for this loan), so we are not giving you any more (information),’” Kirby said of the length of the agenda item. The loan can’t be used to reimburse travel, meals or other expenses the organizing committee has to date, and it must be paid back by June 1, according to city documents. For more on the City Council meeting, see Wednesday’s edition of the Journal. Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com