The cost to hold some events in the city of Rochester may increase for some organizations under changes to the city's special events ordinance approved on Monday, February 13, by Rochester City Council members.
Discussions about amending the ordinance started in November as council members began looking for ways to recoup costs incurred by the city to host special events throughout the year. Asked by council to provide information about the costs, Rochester Police Chief Steven Schettenhelm in December said the city incurred about $178,633 in costs to support special events in 2013 through 2015. Those costs included support from the city's police, fire and public works departments.
Under the current ordinance and fee structure, for-profit organizations must pay 100 percent of actual costs incurred by the city to support an event; non-profit organizations must pay 10 percent of costs incurred by the city that exceeds $1,000; and there is no cost reimbursement for events sponsored by the city, the Downtown Development Authority or the Principal Shopping District.
Council approved a new fee schedule on Monday that will raise the reimbursement costs for non-profit organizations, and cap the city's contribution for city-sponsored events at $40,000 annually.
Under the city's new fee schedule, which will go into effect on January 1, 2018, non-profit organizations will be required to reimburse the city for 75 percent of all costs the city incurs that are over $100.
Among the non-profit organizations expected to be impacted by the change is the Paint Creek Center for the Arts.
Tami Salisbury, executive director for the Center, said in December that the change could have a significant impact on the event. Under the current rate structure, the city incurred a cost of about $18,522 to support the event in 2015, of which the city was reimbursed about $1,752. Under the new rate structure, reimbursement would have been about $13,816. Salisbury said the increase could cause the center to cancel the event in future years, particularly if weather conditions hamper attendance.
Maggie Bobitz, events coordinator for the Rochester Regional Chamber, also in December, asked city council members to consider grandfathering some "signature events" into the proposed fee structure to limit reimbursements by some organizations.
Council in previous discussions had considered including "signature events" in the ordinance, or those that call for substantial support from city departments. The initial intent of the classification was to limit other events scheduled within the city during major events, such as the Arts and Apples, Fire and Ice, Big Bright Light Show and Christmas Parade. However, council in previous discussions rejected the signature event classification in favor of a broader ordinance....continued on page 2