The Scottsbluff City Council is giving a $40,000 subsidy to the Old West Balloon Fest to help defray lodging costs connected with hosting the National Hot Air Ballooning Championship again this August in connection with the Balloon Fest.

       The city has provided between $12,000 and $28,000 to the Balloon Fest in the past, but Executive Director Colleen Johnson says inflation hit hard this year with sharp increases in hotel rooms, propane for the balloons, and many other expenses.

       Although the council heard questions about the size of the increase, the request to use the city’s Community Programming Fund was approved. The fund currently has $100,000 to help events such as the Balloon Fest.