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City event coordinator Tina Curry's current contract expired Dec. 31 and will be revised.

COURTESY PHOTO: CITY OF ST. HELENS  - Tina Curry, event coordinator for St. Helens, works on yearly events, such as Halloweentown. The St. Helens City Council has decided to let city event coordinator Tina Curry's current tourism contract expire, but it plans to replace it with a revised version.

The contract was set to expire Dec. 31. The topic of a new contract was discussed at a Dec. 29 special session of the City Council that at times became heated, with city officials questioning Curry's reporting of expenses and proposing an audit that would dig into the contractor's financial records.

Curry is an independent contractor for the city, with E2C Corp. She organizes community events such as the annual Spirit of Halloweentown. She has been under contract in St. Helens since 2017.

Referring to a committee report, Councilor Jessica Chilton asked why actual expenses for 2021 and 2022 were under $200,000 when, in previous years, expenses had been around $500,000 — "a huge shift," as she described it.

Matt Brown, St. Helens' finance director, said the difference is in how Curry calculates those expenses. But he also said he hasn't seen about $315,000 in expenses listed.

"That would be the difference between $200,000 and $500,000," he pointed out, adding, "I have yet to receive a report."

Curry said she has accounted for those expenses — essentially, the difference between the amount of revenue St. Helens tourism took in and the amount the city government received — but her spreadsheet includes information she considers "confidential."

"This is all in an Excel report, which Matt requested," Curry said. "But I don't have a way to send him this information electronically because it's got confidential contracts in it, with entertainment and vendors. … I have the physical receipts."

Chilton, visibly frustrated, wanted more of an explanation of the expenses listed in the cashflow chart.

"I'm sorry, but I don't feel confident that enough information was provided to show that that deficit has been repaid," Chilton said. "I think it should go to our finance director, so if he is saying he doesn't have it, I'm sorry, but that's a red flag for me."

Curry shot back, "I can understand why you see that as a red flag, because you're getting a lot of misinformation right now."

Mayor Rick Scholl intervened and asked Brown for his advice.

"It is my recommendation that the city should do an audit of the last two years," Brown told the council, to which Chilton agreed.

Brown said a third-party audit would likely cost between $10,000 to $15,000.

Curry said she's open to an audit.

"It's really simple," she said. "We have every receipt. So, we can give you envelopes with receipts in them. You can compare and stare and add them up and you'll see that they match."

That seemed to mollify Chilton.

Toward the end of the special session, Chilton said, "I appreciate Tina's willingness to look at the audit and continue moving on. It's not an attack. It's just if we want to move on with a clean slate, we need to clean up everything."

Contacted by the Spotlight following the special session, Curry downplayed the council's decision to let the contract expire.

"It was a contract that needed to be redone, because it hasn't changed in four years," Curry said

According to St. Helens spokesperson Crystal King, the city will work on a developing a new contract, which will be reviewed at a future council meeting, with a date still to be determined.

In the interim, King said, the city will continue to work with the current contractor, E2C, while a new tourism contract is being developed.

Whether Curry will continue as St. Helens' event coordinator has yet to be determined.

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