Supes approve plaza contract with PDP, despite foes

PRESCOTT – The Yavapai County Board of Supervisors has unanimously renewed its contract with the Prescott Downtown Partnership (PDP) for another year.

Monday's move by the board gives the PDP a $5,500 budget boost to $32,500 to cover management fees and reimbursement for liability insurance. The PDP sought a two-year renewal before trimming its request to one year. Either party can terminate the agreement upon six months written notice, according to the county.

Kendall Jaspers, PDP president, said he wasn't surprised by the board's action. "We've done this basically at the same rate for four years," he said. "We want to cover our costs."

But the renewal saw opposition from Sue Willoughby and Tammie Bennett.

Willoughby said her earlier comments to the board on the issue were "expunged" from county records. She said litigation Bennett brought against the county and PDP created a conflict of interest.

To eliminate the conflict of interest, Willoughby said the renewal should be postponed until the new board is seated in January.

Bennett sued the county and PDP after the two determined that only nonprofits could sponsor events. A few months ago, the Arizona Court of Appeals ruled that the county couldn't make the distinction between non-profit and for-profit events.

The county has petitioned the state Supreme Court to review the case. For now, the county has told the PDP to accept for-profit sponsors.

"Their only job I see is to keep themselves in business," she said.

Bennett told the board that the PDP had "violated" her First Amendment rights. Bennett said it was "sneaky" to put the item on the agenda for the board's Oct. 18 meeting in Cottonwood.

Supervisor Gheral Brownlow said there was no plan to sneak in anything at that meeting. He said it was a "mistake" and noted that it had been pulled prior to that meeting.

Supervisor Chip Davis said he knew about the pending litigation and heard that vendors weren't happy.

"I don't think Yavapai County is in the entertainment business," he said.

Brownlow argued against cutting ties with the PDP. He said it was too late to cancel the agreement.

Davis said the board was responsible to inform vendors of the 2005 schedule and the board must see it through.

Contact the reporter at jsoifer@prescottaz.com