DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) - It was supposed to put Dayton in the national spotlight and generate millions for the city. Instead, it's left some people singing the blues and chanting "show us the money." Even taxpayers are out for now.
2 NEWS Investigates obtained a letter in which the president of the limited liability company set up to put on the music festival, "Downtown Revival" reports more than a $200,000 loss and little hope to pay those he owes.
About two dozen stagehands who worked on the two-day event in September tell us they're still waiting for their money.
Ken Rice, who represents the members of the International Alliance Of Theatrical Stage Employees, local 66, says they're out $21,000. He says they would have been out more had he not gotten a $10,000 deposit before the event.
Bart Nye wishes he had gotten some money up front. He says he's been paid nothing. Nye owns Prime Time Party Rental. Nye told 2 NEWS Investigates, "I got stuck with a bill for $12,000 for an event that I didn't even go to."
Both men are in the same predicament, even though Rice actually has a contract signed by Matt Luongo of Downtown Dayton Revival.
Rice said, "This union is 115 years old, and I've been the business agent for 28 years and I've never been hit this hard."
The trail of unpaid services doesn't stop there. 2 NEWS Investigates found out your tax dollars ended up supporting what was to be a privately funded event. That's because Downtown Revival, LLC hasn't paid the City of Dayton either, and the city leaders who agreed to a contract with the company don't seem to know where your money is.
When Mayor Gary Leitzell's assistant told us he wouldn't be talking about it. We approached the Mayor at City Hall. He said he'd talk with us when he looked at the details. A week later, there was still no word from the Mayor.
City Commissioner Nan Whaley did agree to an interview. "We'll certainly try to recoup the money paid to the city for those efforts. We recognize, too, that Matt's trying to do something, trying to support that effort but we'll go after the money as well," she told 2 NEWS.
The money amounts to more than $60,000 for help from police, fire, and public works. Our public records request produced only one check to the City of Dayton, that being for $10,000 dated September 7, 2012.
The City's public information officer was reluctant to comment.
Pam Elliot : So is it in the legal department now?
Tom Biedenharn: No. It doesn't necessarily have to go to the legal department.
Elliot: So what is the process?
Biedenharn: We work with the vendor.
Elliot: Is Matt Luongo or Downtown Revival, LLC coming forward with money?
Biedenharn: We are working with him.
Elliot: Are you confident you'll get the money?
Biedenharn: Sure. Sure.
But 2 NEWS Investigates doesn't know why the City is so sure it will get paid. Rice and Nye received an identical letter this year from Matt Luongo, President, Downtown Revival, LLC, which reads, "We will not have assets sufficient to satisfy any of our remaining liabilities. On behalf of Downtown Revival, I offer my sincerest apologies."
The letter directs them to take their questions to Tom Whalen, attorney for Downtown Revival.
We did, but got no answers.
We checked out two phone numbers we had for Matt Luongo and the two addresses that were on Downtown Revival documents. We even went to what we think from public records is his residence, but never found him and never got a response from downtown revival, LLC.
"We're probably going to sue him next," Nye said.
Rice said, " We're not going to write this off. That's not the way we do business." Rice told 2 NEWS Investigates he looks forward to taking him to court."
The vendors say they are willing to set up a payment plan with Downtown Revival, LLC and Matt Luongo like they have done for others who haven't be able to pay all at once, but there's no indication from the letters they've received that the entity or Luongo is willing to pay them anything.
The City says the City Manager's office has been in conversations with Luongo to work out re-payment, but if that doesn't work, they'll send the matter to the Finance Department's collection program.
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