Casper City Council on Tuesday again put off deciding whether to hire a Colorado firm to direct the four-day Eclipse Fest in 2017, and instead consider other companies.

Last week, council member Steve Cathey successfully asked council to table the resolution to sign a $275,300 contract with the Colorado Springs-based Forte Events to run Eclipse Fest from Aug. 17 through the total eclipse event Aug. 21, 2017 because he and other members wanted more information.

Tuesday, what council heard, and then granted, was another request.

"My charge today, and I will state it at the outset, is to ask the council to delay making a decision on your request for proposal for Eclipse Fest 2017," Bob Price said.

Price is the general manager of the eleven Townsquare Media radio stations in Casper (including K2 Radio), Cheyenne and Laramie. Besides its 309 radio stations nationwide, Townsquare Media also conducts hundreds of live events.

Price said he did not know about any proposals to direct Eclipse Fest, nor the pending contract with the Colorado Springs-based Forte Events, until after council tabled the resolution last week.

While the council still may hire Forte Events, Price said he wanted the opportunity for Townsquare Media to submit its own proposal.

So the council voted unanimously to agree to reopen the proposal process until Dec. 17. Council will discuss the proposals from Forte, Townsquare and other companies. It plans to make its decision by Dec. 31.

City Attorney Bill Luben said this is technically not a bidding process for a city project because the recommendation to hire Forte Events for professional services came from a volunteer group outside the city.

The volunteer committee that began meeting earlier this year needed a smaller committee to select an Eclipse Fest organizer. That smaller committee of mostly publicly funded organizations -- the Downtown Development Authority, the Casper Area Economic Development Alliance, the Chamber of Commerce, the Casper Area Convention and Visitors Bureau -- chose Forte Events.
Tuesday, Cathey said the council should have a couple of members on the committee, because the city is ultimately responsible.
"We are actually being asked to make decisions, now even, on a proposal -- 'here's a contract, do you like it or not,'" he said. "A contract is okay, but we have no real background into what went into some of the discussion even into this contract."
The current contract with Forte Events says it will raise $1 million in sponsorships from national corporations to help pay for the event.
But Price and Pat Sweeney, owner of two restaurants and former owner of the Parkway Plaza, said they believe that amount is too much to expect, because other communities will be vying for sponsorships.
Sweeney urged council to take a hard look at Townsquare Media and the need for council's involvement on the Eclipse Fest committee.
"I would like to see you totally scrap the Forte proposal," Sweeney said. "It's the city on the hook, as it appears to me for most of these expenses."