Nonprofit Events May Get Financial Help from City

New Port Richey’s Special Event Advisory Committee is recommending that the city subsidize some costs of the final four major nonprofit–organized events to be staged downtown in 2011.

Event organizers and city officials have recently been debating a proposal that New Port Richey recover the costs it pays to support parades and celebrations staged by nonprofits. But the committee’s recommendation suggests a reprieve this year for planners of two events scheduled for October and two events in December.

The recommendation will be considered at Tuesday night’s regular council meeting, along with the temporary alcoholic beverage sales permit applications for two of those events.

The four events that the committee is suggesting the city subsidize are:

“The committee feels at this late date you consider sponsoring Bike Fest, Founders Day, Main Street Holidays and the Holiday Parade,” committee chairwoman Judy Parker wrote. “It is just late in the season for these events to raise the costs that the city requires.”

The Bike Fest and Holiday Parade organizers had found ways to cut costs to the city for the two events, Parker wrote. Greater New Port Richey Main Street plans to meet with the city about reducing its costs.

“The city and the event coordinators intend to keep a close record of their expenses so that in 2012 both groups will know their cost to the city and have more time to raise funds,” Parker wrote. 

According to a memo from City Manager John Schneiger, the upcoming Cotee River Bike Fest’s direct impact on the city budget is $4,390. The upcoming Founder’s Day Festival’s impact to the budget is $1,514. The event planners are paying for off-duty p police services, so those costs don’t have a direct budget impact.

It was proposed in June that New Port Richey recover the costs of nonprofit-organized events, projected in june to total about $180,000. The Bike Fest and Holiday Parade were estimated to be among the costliest events to the city.

The proposal and response from nonprofit organizers prompted the city to document the costs of events to the budget.

Revised figures from city department heads listed the total costs of events as $163,938 in 2010. When discussing the costs with the advisory committee Sept. 8, organizers of the Cotee River Bike Fest, Holiday Parade and 11-day Chasco Fiesta said they had found ways of reducing some costs of upcoming events.

Schneiger told Greg Armstrong, co-chair of the Holiday Parade, that the city could afford a cost of no more than $10,000. Armstrong said that the costs could be kept within that limit.

Armstrong said the Rotary was using added law enforcement officers from outside the city, such as Tarpon Springs officers and Pasco County sheriff’s deputies, to help lighten the burden on the New Port Richey Police Department.

Armstrong said the parade will start storing barricades in New Port Richey this year, instead of the Land O’ Lakes Jail, which will cut down on travel expenses. He said he will try to increase the number of volunteers from 90 to about 250. The Pasco Sheriff also offered use of more jail inmates for cleanup.

Schneiger said the city could handle costs of less than $10,000. Armstrong said the group could hold the parade for less than that amount.

“It’s a go,” Armstrong said.

Chasco Conversations Evolving

Discussions between the West Pasco Chamber of Commerce have been tense since cost recovery was proposed.

The Chasco Fiesta Steering Committee has been looking at alternate locations for the event if the city and chamber can’t reach an agreement, said Kristen King, executive director of the Chasco Fiesta.

At the Sept. 8 meeting with the advisory committee, Schneiger mentioned that Dan Sullivan, who is coordinating the Cotee Bike Fest for the Chamber, hadn’t returned a message to him, which led to an exchange between the two.

West Pasco Chamber President Joe Alpine said he felt that the event has been “unjustly criticized.” He said that the city should look at individual events to decide whether it will sponsor them.

“There has to be some kind of partnership,” Alpine said.

King said that the chamber has figured out ways to whittle costs of the event to the city down to $70,800. There are some costs the chamber won’t be able to avoid incurring, such as police and fire support. However, the chamber can invest in “sweat equity.” It can have volunteers set up crowd barricades, but not road closure barricades due to liability issues, and pick up extra trash from the parade and the tarp from Sims Park.

A private site in Pasco County has been chosen as a backup location if the festival has to move, King said.

At a City Council meeting last week, Deputy Mayor Rob Marlowe, a frequent critic of the costs of events, said that if Chasco can get another government to subsidize its costs, it should go.

“I think we’re being held out to ransom,” he said.

“Amen,” chimed in Councilman Bob Langford

On Friday morning, Schneiger and Mayor Bob Consalvo met with the West Pasco Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors. Consalvo said after the meeting they had talked about facilitating better communication between the chamber and city.

Consalvo said that he wants to keep Chasco in the city but that New Port Richey is facing revenue uncertainties and a tough budget. 

King did not attend the meeting, but she said afterward that “it’s Chasco’s feeling that the city is making a concerted effort to try and reduce its costs.”

Chamber representatives and the City Council will meet Oct. 11 to discuss the costs of the Chasco Fiesta, fresh wth new number crunching.

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