Residents demand to ‘follow the money' of Leesburg Bikefest



LEESBURG, Fla. - Residents in Leesburg said the city is missing out on revenue from its biggest money-maker and now some are questioning the nonprofit that organizes the Leesburg Bikefest.

Critics want the nonprofit to open its books and are demanding answers.

City officials insist the nonprofit that runs Bikefest is clean, and there will be a meeting to prove it.

Leesburg Bikefest draws a quarter of a million people and pours well over $100 million into the local economy.

Some said it’s time to follow the money.

“I want to find out what’s going on. Use the ‘Wizard of Oz’ analogy. Pull back the curtain and open up. Let’s see what’s up,” said Leesburg resident Roger Smith.

Smith is part of a group of residents asking questions about the Bikefest organizer, Leesburg Partnership.

“Putting on events is extremely expensive. From garbage pickup, to all the amenities, the entertainment insurance,” said Leesburg Partnership’s vice president Joe Shipes.

Shipes said his group has had a hand in dozens of events every year.

“And I would remind everyone that all of our events are free,” he said.

Shipes said the group’s tax records are on the partnership’s website and city officials are confident everything is on the up and up.

“If you had a nonprofit that deals with multiple projects in the millions, people are checking that,” said Jay hurley with the Leesburg City Commission.

Smith said he just wants to be sure.
“If there’s nothing to hide, then don’t hide,” he said.

The public meeting is set for at 5:30 p.m Monday.