Non-profits object to spiraling
special event application fee

December 03, 1999
Santa Paula City Council
Representatives of several organizations were on hand at the Fee Study workshop of the City Council to object to a spiraling special event permit cost. The special meeting, the third in a series looking at city fees and costs recovery, was held Nov. 22. The Fee Study was prepared by Revenue & Costs Specialists at a cost of about $33,000 and covers over 180 items throughout the services provided by city government.During a previous session, the fee for fireworks displays was raised from $143 to $590, with the council noting that a waiver from a non-profit could be granted.One fee that turned controversial at the Nov. 22 workshop is for special events: the basic permit cost - which covers “processing a request to have a special event in the city in the public right-of-way” - is presently $50.The cost as proposed in the fee study is $255 for a minor event and $560 for a major event. The study noted that the average cost to the city for a major special event permit application is $317 to cover the time of staff and was based on 25 such applications annually.Community activist Joyce Carlson noted that the annual Crop Walk has provided about $269,000 to feed the hungry in its 22 year local history, including over $69,000 distributed in Santa Paula.“We require no, zero, city services except processing the application,” to hold the event, Carlson said. “To go from $50 to $255 is exorbitant. . .I appeal to you to look at the service to the community,” the Crop Walk provides. “. . .events should be considered on a case-by-case basis.”Ron Merson of the Santa Paula Optimist Club said the organization stages the annual Christmas and Halloween parades. “When the city first imposed the $50 application fee we opposed it. There were 500 kids in the Halloween Parade and [the fee] is a direct cost for the club in doing something that benefits the community.”Merson told the council the upcoming Christmas Parade, “Which you all are riding in free of charge,” helps stimulate business in the downtown from those that attend the parades and then shop in the area. “The Optimist Club met and talked about this and if you raise this fee we won't do [parades] it again.”Councilwoman Robin Sullivan asked how many special event applications were garnered from businesses and non-profit agencies. Community Services Director John Keisler said there is a “long list” of applicants.
Sullivan suggested that such permits should perhaps be broken into two categories.Keisler said that the annual Kiwanis Club Citrus Festival pays much in fees, and the special event application fee is “a little deceiving. . .some non-profits pay thousands in fees,” for such major special events.Sullivan said such fees should be “two-tier if legal” to reflect the applicants status as a business or non-profit organization.Carlson said events that “benefit the city” through enhancing the economy or raising civic pride.The fee for special event applications will undergo further study.

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