Contest will determine how Charles City spends RAGBRAI surplus - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Contest will determine how Charles City spends RAGBRAI surplus

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CHARLES CITY (KWWL) -- When a city is chosen to host RAGBRAI© riders, there's no doubt local shops and vendors will make a bundle. But it's up to a local committee to cover the bulk of the budget.

"When you're talking port-a-potties, extra law enforcement, it really adds up. The costs got pretty high," explained Charles City RAGBRAI committee member and treasurer Trudy O'Donnell.

It's taking a few weeks for many RAGBRAI committees to total up all their bills and donations. Some, like Dubuque, managed to break even, raising just enough money to cover about $75,000 in expenses. A few bills are still coming in for Manchester and Waterloo. Manchester is expecting to turn a small profit, Waterloo organizers say its too early to tell. Both said they will donate any surplus to non-profit groups.

In Charles City, O'Donnell recently realized the city has about $4,500 left over. It came as a surprise for her and the rest of the committee. Even as bikers rode into town at the end of July, committee members wondered if money from the beer garden and RAGBRAI merchandise would put them in the black.

"We finally realized, hey, this is looking really good! Well then the question came up, what are we going to do with the extra money?" said O'Donnell.

If you've traveled through Charles City lately, on bike or by car, you'll notice they take a lot of pride in how their community looks. So what better use for the surplus than a project to increase the town's eye-candy value?

"Something people could see and point at and say, the last time RAGBRAI came through that project right there - the RAGBRAI profits helped fund it," said O'Donnell.

The committee knows there are countless ideas floating around. So they're offering a contest -- submit your beautification plan, and the favorite one gets a hefty donation. There's no timeline for a potential project, but you might want to keep this request in mind:

"We're hoping to definitely have it in place for the next time RAGBRAI comes through, so we'll keep our fingers crossed!" O'Donnell noted.

You can pick up an application for the contest at the Charles City City Hall or Chamber of Commerce. They're due by October 1st.

Charles City's RAGBRAI committee is open to splitting up the $4,500 if there are a couple projects they really like. They're hoping the ideas they don't choose will get a little publicity from the contest, encouraging another organization will pick up the tab.

Online Reporter: Colleen O'Shaughnessy

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