Rose float on the chopping block

Glendale could find itself off the Rose Parade route if the City Council goes through with ceasing its $130,000 commitment to build the annual float — ending the city’s status as the second-longest-running entrant.

The potential funding cut comes against the backdrop of an $18-million budget gap at City Hall, making a six-figure subsidy for a float in the annual Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena a tougher sell.

“It’s a great thing, and the community does take pride in it. But at this time, we are talking about cutting programs for children in the parks. I think it’s a luxury,” Mayor Laura Friedman said at a recent budget meeting.

Without the city subsidy, there’s little chance funding will be cobbled together in time for the 2012 float.

Typically, the Glendale Rose Float Assn. is asked to raise $50,000 to pay back to the city, reducing the size of the subsidy to $80,000. This year, officials would want the association to also take over the $30,000 worth of city staff time spent overseeing the float project.

But the organization has in recent years been waning. After two fundraisers this year, just $500 has been raised, said the group’s president, Garry Ackerman.

“What they’re asking, we can’t begin to do,” he said.

While a design for this year’s float is already in the works, the city has yet to sign the $100,000 construction contract for the float at a time when other cities are well underway.

“The contract has to be signed soon because they have to begin building it now,” said Glendale Councilman Dave Weaver, a longtime float advocate and chairman of last year’s decorating committee.

Faced with similar concerns, Burbank parks officials had proposed eliminating the $67,500 contribution to the Burbank Tournament of Roses Assn.

But council members balked at the idea and said the value of the volunteers and the quality of the city’s float each year outweighed any short-term budget savings from eliminating the contribution. Instead, they moved to reduce the funding by 10%, to $60,800.

“It’s not going to balance our budget or break our budget, but I felt that the 10% [reduction] and no more is something I think we can work with,” said Burbank Councilman David Gordon.

La Cañada officials say they will continue to fulfill a $10,000 donation typically requested by the La Cañada Tournament of Roses Assn., which oversees the float’s construction.

In Glendale, city officials say they could justify spending $50,000 in redevelopment funds on the float as an economic development tool, although they noted the float’s focus may need to change. But with state lawmakers continuing to put redevelopment funding at risk of elimination, those dollars might not pan out.

“After 98 years, I’d hate to see it go down,” Weaver said. “It’s an integral part of Glendale.”

Staff writer Gretchen Meier contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2019, Glendale News-Press
EDITION: California | U.S. & World