Pay to play? Holmes Beach has entered a discussion on raising fees for use of the vacant land that once served as an airplane landing strip.
Holmes Beach commissioners Feb. 27 began discussing raising fees for events held at city field in hopes of discouraging multiday events they say are taxing the city budget.
Presently the city charges a $250 flat fee for events held at city field, the lot adjacent to city hall that also serves as a recreation field. Although undersized for regulation play, the field is used for soccer and other sports. It adjoins the Birdie Tebbetts Field, once a Junior League baseball park now encompassing a dog park.
Mary Buonagura, human resources analyst for Holmes Beach, told commissioners that hosting the events for more than one day is costing the city nearly $500 in supplies, labor and maintenance.
In 2012, 17 events were held on the field, seven for multiple days. In 2013, the field hosted six one-day events and eight multiple day events. Buonagura estimates the city lost nearly $2,250 in 2013 associated with the events.
“Last March there was an event every weekend,” Commissioner Marvin Grossman said. “That’s why we started to look at this, because we needed some relief for the field and our workers and because there is no real benefit from hosting so many events.”
Buonagura suggested the city charge $250 per day, instead of per event, and recommended collecting a $500 deposit for all events. Currently only events that allow the sale of alcoholic beverages are required to provide a deposit.
She suggested at the conclusion of each event, the event coordinator and public works foreman complete an inspection together to assess any damage.
Buonagura said the city also is creating a new “streamlined” application for venders who want to use city field.
While the city field is dedicated for the use of nonprofit organizations, commissioners have questioned how much of the profits earned during the events actually go toward the cause. They indicated they want to start asking event coordinators to post the percentage of proceeds benefiting the nonprofit on signs at the event.
Currently the land development code says the hosting organization must benefit residents of Manatee County, but the commission would like to further limit that to residents of Anna Maria Island.
“Events hosted by the Anna Maria Island Art League, the Privateers and others like them are what we are looking for because they are here and they’re benefiting our residents,” Grossman said. “They put the events on themselves, they don’t pay promoters and we know exactly where the money is going. It helps them and it helps our image.”
The commission also considered omitting the clause in the land development code that allows overnight camping during permitted events at the field, but decided to keep it because of the lack of local RV parks and the need for vendors to watch over their inventory during multiday events.
“Even the event the art league puts on is two days,” Patricia Petruff, city attorney, said during the meeting. “These artists bring their RVs and trailers form all over and there is not a campground for miles. They are not going to want to leave their valuable artwork unattended.”
Commissioners will consider an ordinance to address city field events at their next meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 11, at city hall, 5801 Marina Drive.