CEDAR CITY – City Council members who voted Wednesday night to grant the Utah Midsummer Renaissance Faire a break on new park fees that took them by surprise this season, did so without full disclosure of the faire’s actual fee schedule, leaving at least one of them to question if he made the right choice.
2015 Utah Midsummer Renaissance Faire Board of Directors member Ralph McAfee spoke to Cedar City Council on behalf of the nonprofit organization that has been using Main Street Park for 33 years, asking to please waive the new park use fees this year.
For the first year since the festival began, the faire was asked to pay park use fees above and beyond the typical $25 per day special event fee.
During a May 27 City Council meeting, council members voted to amend the fee schedule for special events that take place in community parks to compensate for pavilion use that could otherwise have been reserved by the public.
New park fees for special events include the $25 special event fee, pavilion use fees and a $40 utility fee for an entire day of power availability if power is needed.
Since Main Street Park has two pavilions, the Renaissance Faire requires power and exclusive park use for five full days organizers were looking at a whopping $655 – fees they were unaware of until recently.
When the vote for the new fees passed in May, Bingham said, it was decided that anyone who already had their special event permits approved would not be charged.
The city only requires 30 days notice for special use permits and Renaissance Faire organizers filed for their permit after the ordinance was put into place.
The problem with waiving the fees, Councilman John Black said, is that it becomes a domino effect. In other words, if they waive the fee for one entity, then in turn they have to give the same considerations to others who may come before them with the same situation.
“If we do it once,” he said, “Where do we say no?”
The waiver seemed like a fair request, Councilman Fred Rowley said, taking into consideration the timing of when the ordinance passed compared to the timing for the event. He suggested a partial waiver this year with the understanding that in 2016, the faire would be prepared to pay the full cost.
McAfee cited bad timing as the reason for the request and assured council they would be better prepared in 2016.
The faire is run entirely through volunteers who help for the love of it, McAfee said. They receive no grant funding, city funding or otherwise, but operate on the funds accrued during each year’s event to provide activities for the next year.
When City Council asked how many vendors there would be and what the booth fees are, Cathy Bryant, 2015 member of the board of directors, said there is a “flat fee” which, she said, amounts to about $175 for each of the 35 vendors.
“It’s $225, but they get $50 of that back if they are in costume and all that,” she said, “plus (it includes) a $5 city fee for the permit.”
The price that was quoted to the City Council only covered the smallest booth size available, a 12-by-12 space, and was only guaranteed if the fee was paid before March 31. A 12-by-24 space paid for by March 31 costs $375 (before bond refunds).
The same two booth sizes, 12-by-12 and 12-by-24, are priced all the way up to $325 for a small booth and $475 for a large one (before bond refunds) depending on when vendors paid their booth fees.
The final outcome of the request resulted in a unanimous vote that required the Utah Midsummer Renaissance Faire to pay half of the new park fees. The other half, it was decided, would come from the mayor’s discretionary fund.
When contacted the day after City Council and asked if he was aware of the complete Utah Midsummer Renaissance Faire fee schedule on their application, Rowley said he was not. He believed that the flat fee quoted was the only booth fee faire organizers charged, he said.
After reviewing the information on the application, he said, had he known in advance, it may have influenced how he chose to vote on the matter.
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