Organizer, city disagree on break down of conjunto festival negotiations

SAN BENITO — Both parties are blaming the other for breaking down negotiations to stage the annual conjunto festival.

The Narciso Martinez Cultural Arts Center accused the city of “killing” the Conjunto Festival, which was set for October.

Rogelio Nuñez, founder of the arts center, said the city’s “demonizing” of the art center’s “accountability and transparency” led negotiations to break down.

The city strongly denied the accusation.

Meanwhile, the city is considering holding a similar musical event while the arts center discusses staging its Conjunto Festival in cities including Brownsville, Los Fresnos, Weslaco, McAllen and South Padre Island.

Last week, Nuñez told city commissioners he would cancel the three-day festival if the city did not reduce its request for $17,365 in fees it said it assessed to help cover costs associated with holding the event.

But the city said Nuñez did not respond to its offer to reduce fees to $7,000.

Nuñez argued an ordinance states the city charges $200 for use of San Benito Plaza, where the arts center has held its festival for years.

But the city said fees included $4,690 to assign police to provide security, $4,690 to rent San Benito Plaza for the three-day event and other fees to cover expenses such a clean up costs.