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Pittsylvania County News

Posted on: October 12, 2021

Pittsylvania County Invoices Total $337,592 for Planned and Unplanned Expenses at Rock Festival

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As allowed by our music festival ordinance and is common in other localities, Pittsylvania County billed Purpose Driven Events for all costs incurred during the two music festivals at the Blue Ridge Ampitheater. 

Many of the County’s costs – such as EMS, Public Safety, the Pittsylvania County Sheriff, as well as permit fees – were planned costs. However, many billed costs were unplanned and occurred due to insufficient performance from Purpose Driven Events’ vendors. Beginning the second morning of the Blue Ridge Rock Festival, Purpose Driven Events requested that Pittsylvania County take over all operations outside of the festival grounds, including transportation services, sanitation, and traffic control. The County remained in control for the remainder of the festival. 

Not including meals taxes, the final invoice sent to Purpose Driven Events was $337,592.29 and included invoices on behalf of several organizations that provided assistance at the County’s request, such as FCS Inc., Danville Public Schools, Danville Police Department, Danville Public Works and Pittsylvania County Schools. For each of these organizations, the goal was simply to ensure all costs were covered and that Pittsylvania taxpayers incurred no event-related expense. You can review all of the invoices billed to the event promoter here. These bills are due to the county by October 28. 

Many Fire & Rescue volunteers and off-duty professionals from various agencies and departments were compensated for time worked at the event; Purpose Driven Events was invoiced for all such costs. In total, in excess of $150,000 additional employee income was billed. Other employees working the event were not personally compensated, but the County did bill for these individuals’ efforts that occurred solely to the promoter’s benefit. The Sheriff, County Administrator, County Attorney, Deputy County Administrator and Community Development Director all provided services to Purpose Driven Events during the Festival weekend but did not personally benefit from their work. 

Said County Administrator David Smitherman: “Before the festival began, I spent many hours working on administrative tasks related to the festival that fall under my normal job duties, and these costs were not billed to the promoter. However, just as it would not be fair to the taxpayers for our public safety department or sheriff’s office to work this kind of event without being compensated by the promoter, it would not be appropriate for me to spend nearly 60 hours helping to manage a private event without Pittsylvania County recouping those costs. It is not typical for a county administrator to have such a hands-on role in managing so many of the logistics for a private event like this, which is why we have billed Purpose Driven Events for my time.” 

“Mr. Smitherman came to the festival site because of the issues that were being reported about the inadequacy of the operational management of the festival,” said Mike Taylor, Pittsylvania County Sheriff. “On Friday morning of the Rock festival event, Mr. Smitherman called for a meeting with promoters and the contractors. The Virginia State Police, along with myself and many other agencies, were in attendance to address unacceptable issues with the festival’s operations. Jonathan Slye spoke to the fact that some of his contractors had just simply walked away from their responsibilities or failed in the duties to the event. Mr. Smitherman organized local providers, at the promoter's additional expense, for transportation issues, waste management issues and lighting issues with VDOT and others to get the event back on a manageable footing. Mr. Smitherman maintained a physical presence to help anyway he could to address concerns from our citizens with operational missteps by the promoter’s contractors. Mr. Smitherman had continuous meetings with the promoters and their staff to ensure things were getting accomplished as was promised by Purpose Driven Events as well as requesting input from county and state agencies.”

Said Bob Warren, Chairman of the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors: “As managers of Pittsylvania County’s budget, this Board strives to be fiscally responsible in every way. With the Blue Ridge Rock Festival, we worked with the event promoter and county staff to ensure that this event did not cost our taxpayers. Many of our staff, as well as staff of other area organizations and government agencies, worked diligently over the weekend to alleviate some of the issues facing the event and ensure the safety of all attendees and our citizens. Due to the long hours and the scope of work that went well out of the normal job description of many of these people, we invoiced the promoter to recoup these costs. Even after some early difficulties, this event would not have been as successful as it was without the tireless work of many in our organization, ranging from our Sheriff and County Administrator to our solid waste team.”

Date Issued: 10-12-2021

Media Contact: Caleb Ayers, Public Relations Manager, caleb.ayers@pittgov.org, 434-713-5974

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