Mayor Calls For Higher Event Rental Fees For Some Nonprofits
Last summer, the Safety Harbor City Commission decided to stop waiving event rental fees for nonprofit organizations in order to recoup some of the money the City was spending to help put on the events.
According to officials, the City waived a total of $26,400 for all nonprofit events in 2014.
So starting on January 1, 2015, a nonprofit rental fee of $300 per day (plus $150 for setup) went into effect; the amount is seventy percent less than what private organizations are charged to use certain City facilities like the Marina and Main Street.
Last month, local artist and Safety Harbor Art and Music Center founder Todd Ramquist appeared before the Commission asking for a return of the nonprofit waiver, claiming that charging fees would cause organizers of smaller events to leave the city.
But after putting the item on the agenda, the City Commission on Monday night not only backed its original decision, it clamped down even harder on certain nonprofits that hold events in the City.
“That’s another issue that I’m having a hard time with,” Mayor Andy Steingold said, referring to events such as the San Gennaro Festa and SHAMc’s Safety Harbor Songfest that charge admission fees.
“They’re getting a break from the City, they’re paying $300, and yet they’re turning around and charging whatever they’re charging to get in, and they’re using up the entire marina. I mean we love having these events, but at the same time, there’s a cost.”
Under Steingold’s proposal, nonprofits based outside of the City of Safety Harbor and nonprofits based in Safety Harbor that charge admission to their events would receive only a fifty percent discount off the private rate of $1,000 per day.
Nonprofits in Safety Harbor that don’t charge admission would receive the original seventy percent rate.
Still, representatives from some local nonprofits made their case for waiving the rental fees completely.
“SHAMc makes their money through what’s paid, that’s the only way they have to make the money,” Kiwanis Club of Safety Harbor official Nadine Nickeson said. “So even though they’re charging, it’s to put on the event. I see a difference between their type of event and the Italian festival.”
“I’m here tonight because we would like you, for our organization, to waive these fees,” Kiwanis president elect Charrie Moscardini said, “because a hundred percent of what we net when we raise money goes back into our charitable efforts, more than ninety percent of them in this City. And so every dollar you take from us, you’re taking from the children we serve.”
That suggestion eventually led to the commission agreeing to waive the rental fee completely for nonprofits that operate inside Safety Harbor and put at least eighty percent of their net proceeds back into the community.
The new four-tier system would not go into effect until next year, after city staff works on the item over the summer.
Ramquist later said he believes without a policy that allows fees to be waived for City facilities such as the Gazebo for all local nonprofits, it sends a bad message about the importance of arts in the community.
“The mayor has said he supports arts in the community, but his actions speak otherwise,” Ramquist told Safety Harbor Connect. “If he truly believes in supporting art and culture in the community, there needs to be a waivable fee system for all Safety Harbor nonprofits.”
“If you want to promote the arts, then you should make it easier, not harder, to host events.”
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I heard a rumor I couldn’t believe was true. The Mayor and Council is so against art and culture that they approved $12,000 worth of art plus $25,000 for the parking spaces at the broken mirror. $25,000 donation by the city divided by $300 event rental fee equals 83 annual SHAM Festivals. That’s a lot of non support for art and culture.
Next up Todd will say the Council hates trees!
My wife and I live in upstate New York and planned our second trip to Safety Harbor with the sole purpose of attending the SHAMc Singer/Songwriter Festival. We stayed at the Safety Harbor Resort, ate in the local restaurants and shopped in the shops. We love your community and will plan another visit next year to attend the music festival. The event appeared to draw many people and any tourism draw is always a plus for any community. We live on the shores of Lake Ontario in a small village whose population doubles in the summer due to the return of seasonal residents. We have many non-profit organizations that struggle to make ends meet, yet provide events and promote tourism . Some donate money back to the community in various ways and some do not. But all sponsor events that promote tourism which helps local businesses. Some events are held on Main Street, some at the Village beach and some on the Town recreational facilities. Neither municipality charges to use their facilities. Some of the events are actually insured under the Town policy to save costs for the non-profit organization. They feel the increased tourism and the business it creates is very important . For the Safety Harbor Commission to impose fees on their non-profits seems to send the message that they don’t want to promote tourism, increase profits for local businesses or help struggling non-profits survive. I have visited when no events were held and I have visited when the music festival was on. I was not even aware the city owned the marina. I’m not sure what costs the city incurs from operating the marina other than normal maintenance of the lawn, restrooms, docks, etc. which I would think most costs would be covered by dock rent. To charge $300 a day (plus setup?) seems a bit exorbitant. Waive, or charge nominal (not $300/day) fees for the Safety Harbor non-profits. Support those people who volunteer their time to the community. Don’t discourage them, volunteers are hard to find.
I dont often agree with our Mayor, but enough already SHAM. No one trust this SHAM. We are on to you.
they just held the 2nd annual event, not like its been around for 5-10-20 years. SHAM doesnt want to pay $300 to rent public space and charge the highest admission fee of any event in town EVER, so now the Mayor is against arts and culture. WHAT!!! SHAM’s qoute makes no sense, so now EVERY not for profit in town who holds an event does so solely to support arts and culture? Try holding your event in Clearwater or Dunedin and see what they charge. They must hate arts and culture too.
The Mayor requires my son to pay a fee to play basketball at the community center and my daughter to take karate classes. Does that mean he is against kids who like to play basketball and learn karate? I guess he is also against everyone who pays taxes, which not for profits dont pay!
Todd is a clown who this town is getting tired of. He and his sister just made enough money to travel for the summer. He isnt using the funds to complete the “broken mirror” as us locals call it. how many more years can we expect the broken mirror to be under construction? Show us how much you really made on your event. Dont let them hold another event until the broken mirror is complete.
Didnt the Mayor approve a $10,000 art project at this same meeting? So is he still against arts, please explain the logic?
If you charge a fee to access an event on PUBLIC property you should pay 100%, no discount. AND DONT MAKE IT EVEN EASIER FOR MORE EVENTS TO TAKE OVER OUR TOWN- NO, NO, NO!!!!
I do not think any group should be allowed to charge a fee to get in the marina! It is a public park and should be open to the public. If a non profit or profit group want to have an event they should pay a fee AND not be allowed to charge admission to the event. There are plenty of other ways they can make money like charging vendors or selling food etc!
Why not citizens committee including local business owners that determines what organizations are a net positive for Safety Harbor? Admittedly, I’m an outsider looking in but the San Gennaro Festival and something the local Kiwanis is involved in ought to be treated differently. I will say I noticed how busy downtown away from the marina seemed during San Gennaro. Seems many were not enamored of the poor food and meandered up Main Street looking for great options. What do our merchants say? Are these festivals a positive for downtown business?