City considers removing exemptions for special event fees; upgrades to Vernon Worthen Park

George First Friday Streetfest, St. George, Utah, June 5, 2015 | Photo by LeAnna Bergeron, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – Last fall the St. George City Council passed an ordinance revising its special events permitting process. As a part of that revision, new fees associated with the use of city services and facilities were added and were a topic of discussion during council meeting Thursday.

The City Council has often waived fees for special events and the city has absorbed the cost. This has begun to impact the city’s budget, especially when those costs are associated with the use of city resources for the events, like using police for security or using the city’s stage with its staff setting it up.

The St. George City Council meets in a work meeting to discuss fees related to the city's special events permitting process, along with other matters, St. George, Utah, Jan. 28, 2016 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News
The St. George City Council meets in a work meeting to discuss fees related to the city’s special events permitting process, along with other matters, St. George, Utah, Jan. 28, 2016 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

“There are certainly costs associated with every event that we have and can’t really continue to absorb,” City Manager Gary Esplin said in a previous council meeting in October 2015.

City staff presented the council with a proposed special event permit fee schedule Thursday in order to clarify parts of the revised permitting process.

Staff recommended permits for events with less than 300 participants be $75, and those with over 300 participants be $150.

City staff would then review permit applications and determine what services or manpower may need to be applied. Examples given of individual police officers possibly running $55 for a two-hour minimum, while parks personnel could possibly run $20 an hour.

“What we decided when we passed this ordinance last year was that we were going to charge everybody for the rent (of facilities) – we minimize the rent as much as we could – and the (permit) fee of course, and for the assistance required,” Mayor Jon Pike said. “What we used to do all the time was waive all that.”

The new fees will help cover the overtime for city employees and other costs involved that the city has basically subsidized, Esplin said.

I think this is the responsible way to deal with it,” Pike said.

Entities that may be exempt from special event fees due to their “unique partnerships with the city” include Dixie State University, the Washington County School District and Washington County, Esplin said.

“Those people we need to look at differently,” Esplin said.

The partnerships with those public entities and the city have been mutually beneficial as they have shared facilities with little to no charge. The school district will often let the city use its facilities for city programs, for example.

The City Council gave verbal approval for the city staff to go ahead with the scheduled fee recommendation. It will be brought back for final approval by the council in a regular meeting next week.

Other business

With the new campus of the Dixie Applied Technology College and the incoming technology business park at the Ridge Top Complex, there’s a need to need to bring additional power to the mesa. Power will come in from a nearby power substation via overhead power lines that will cut across Dixie Drive around Tonaquint Park and run along a part of Indian Hill’s Drive and ultimately connect to a new power substation located on the mesa.

Laurie Mangum, director of the city’s Energy Services Department, said the project would take 18 months to complete. Once completed, the new substation will also provide additional power to the Green Valley area during peak use hours.

The City Council was also shown preliminary concept plans for a redesign of the Vernon Worthen Park on 400 East. It is the oldest park in St. George dating back to the 1940s and is one of the most heavily used in the city. Though it is a beloved park, there are issues that need to be addressed, such as relocating and upgrading playground equipment and providing better parking due to safety concerns.

City staff unveiled a proposed redesign of the park that would relocate the playground equipment, along with the park’s pavilion, more toward the center of the park. A parking lot accessed from 200 South would be added between the park’s volleyball and pickleball courts. Upgrades to restroom and picnicking facilities are also proposed. Preliminary estimates place the project cost near $2 million. No actions were taken on this item as it is still in the conceptual phase.

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Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.


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1 Comment

  • .... January 29, 2016 at 7:31 pm

    Let’s see how fast they retract this when the LDS church wants to hold a special event

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