Failed concert will hit Summerside budget

A newly elected Summerside councillor is concerned about how $1.3 million spent by the P.E.I. on a Michael Jackson tribute concert that never happened will affect this year's budget.

A newly elected Summerside councillor is concerned about how $1.3 million spent by the P.E.I. on a Michael Jackson tribute concert that never happened will affect this year's budget.

Tina Mundy, elected just two months ago, is also concerned about how much due diligence was done before the city wired two $650,000 payments to a U.S. promoter for a concert that was supposed to feature Beyonce and Justin Timberlake, amongst other acts. Earlier this week the city filed a lawsuit against the promoter, alleging the whole event was a fraud.

Mundy has no knowledge of what went on during the concert negotiations, but she doesn't like what she saw in the court documents.

"I felt that maybe the city administration, or the senior management, or the staff down at the community services department, based on just glancing through the court documents, that if that's all the due diligence they had done, there probably should have been more," she told CBC News Thursday.

Chief administrative officer Terry Murphy said in a news release earlier this week that the city always tries to strike a balance between risk and reward. In this case, Murphy said, past experience with the promoter gave the city the confidence it needed to believe last summer's concert would come together.

Mundy said the next question the city has to deal with is just how much money the city should spend trying to get the concert money back.

"You've got to at least try," she said.

"There's $1.3 million of taxpayers money out there. You've got to at least try to get it back. Do we spend another million trying to get it back? I don't think so."

Mundy says the big concert payout will make things tough for council as the politicians now enter budget discussions for 2011.