Council majority expected to shift and support lower special event fees

June 01, 2011
Santa Paula City Council

Area nonprofits are expected to be out in force Monday when the City Council again considers reduced city fees for special events, an issue this time expected to gain the needed majority support.

At the May 17 meeting Mayor Fred Robinson said he was poised to approve the new fee schedule after initially rejecting the decrease based on city budget concerns.

Vice Mayor Bob Gonzales and Councilman Rick Cook had also rejected the lower fees.

Police Chief Steve MacKinnon said at the meeting that he and other staff “Did a little math, did a little in house consideration,” of fees for services required for nonprofit events.

And, based on “recalculations sharpened our pencils,” to further whittle costs on police and fire fees.

Police services would cost $47 an hour per officer, an $8 an hour reduction from the last proposed fee and a dramatic drop from the fully allocated hourly rate fee that ranges from about $92 to $113. Each firefighter would cost $40 an hour, down from the previously proposed $49 an hour; the fully allocated cost per firefighter is $84 an hour.

Other fees would remain the same but the proposed personnel deposit was lowered from 25 percent to 10 percent, not to exceed $1,000.

MacKinnon said total costs would be fluid depending on event attendance.

“For example, they expect 2,000 people and 5,000 show up… but,” said MacKinnon, “the reverse would also be true,” and if attendance was lower than expected and services decreased the nonprofit would be billed a lesser amount.

MacKinnon said meetings have been held with different nonprofits and estimates on services addressed with the goal of “Making their events safe and affordable at the same time… ”

Based on the new rates, the anticipated cost for police officers required at the annual Citrus Classic Balloon Festival has been projected at more than $8,000 and MacKinnon said “based on real quick calculations” the annual Kiwanis Club Citrus Festival would require about $12,500 in police services.

Various public speakers voiced support for the new fee structure noting that although they would prefer free services they understand the city must recover costs.

Kiwanis Club President Ken Stock reminded the council that the Citrus Festival, held annually since 1961, is not only a popular family event but the event – as others sponsored by nonprofits - also generates funds that are donated back to the community.

Fees charged by the city will only diminish those donated to organizations such as Turning Point Foundation said Jane Lax who noted that such nonprofit events also offer valuable volunteer opportunities.

Citrus Classic Balloon Festival Founder/Director Carla Edwards said all events “Add to the caliber of Santa Paula” and its status as an event rich city but organizers must have the fee structure finalized for planning purposes.

She asked that the council expedite the decision on special event fees as such potential costs impact the planning of nonprofit events.

“The balloon festival is 72 days out,” and Edwards said the pressure is on to finalize the event for sponsors and volunteers.

Councilman Jim Tovias asked how the new fee schedule might impact the budget and City Manager Jaime Fontes said it is not now a concern.

“Time is everything,” and nonprofit organizations are “in limbo” due to the issue not being finalized and Tovias urged that new fees be adopted with a one-year limit.

Councilman Rick Cook disagreed noting that earlier in the meeting council had taken action to increase other fees, revenue needed to “make the city well… ”

The city has laid off employees, privatized trash services and lowered employee compensation and “knowing what we’ve done,” to deal with the budget shortfall Cook said he would not support the reduced special event fee.

Although Robinson said he had voted against reduced special event fees in the past he would now support the new structure.

“We are a community of special events, we are very proud of that… we all take great pride,” in overcoming a projected $1.8 million budget deficit and now the city is “on the mend… ”

Gonzales and Councilman Ralph Fernandez were absent from the May 17 meeting.

Site Search



Call 805 525 1890 to receive the entire paper early. $50.00 for one year.