Paducah city officials are still waiting to receive a financial report from Barbecue on the River that they hope will provide more insight into the organization's financial practices.
Last month, Barbecue, Inc. and the Paducah Symphony Orchestra settled a noisy public dispute over operation of the festival’s beer garden, during which time alleged financial mismanagement and lack of city operational oversight were brought to light.
One aspect of the alleged mismanagement involves Barbecue, Inc. contractual requirement to provide a limited-scope audit in accordance with a city earmark of $20,000. The 2011 earmark allowed for the group to open a downtown storefront. The city has asked for that audit in recent weeks.
Barbecue Commissioner Susie Coiner had said that tax season may delay the preparation of the audit, although no deadline was given.
Mayor Gayle Kaler expects the audit to arrive soon now that tax season is over, and didn't say what she expects to find.
"I think a lot of people are going 'what's going on here?'," said Kaler. "Well, what's going on here is that a board which came up with a good idea 20 years ago have been almost the victims of their success because it has grown rapidly over the last 20 years. When you're very, very successful, there are more questions into 'well, how did they do that?'"
Kaler says City Manager Jeff Pederson will be looking into the audit to determine if there are any discrepancies surrounding the organization’s non-profit status and management of charitable funds.
Kaler says festival organizers have contracted with the Kemper group for the audit, they did not comment about their progress on the audit.
Earlier this month, the PSO declined the contract to operate the River Beer Garden this September after managing it for 19 years finding the terms “nonnegotiable.”
Kaler says that although she’s glad the dispute between Barbecue and the PSO has been resolved to a degree, the people involved need to move forward in order to have a successful festival this year.