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City holds up vote on fee hike for downtown events

July 25, 2014 News Extra

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City council members will wait another month to decide if they will raise fees for large events held downtown.

Council Thursday night tabled the first reading of an amended ordinance that would increase the overtime contributions of event organizers from 25 to 50 percent, effective next year.

Butler Mayor Tom Donaldson at rgw council meeting Tuesday proposed the rate to be 75 percent, but he lowered that Thursday night to 50 percent to help ease the expense on organizers.

“I had second thoughts on it,” Donaldson said. “This will help the events adjust next year.”

Donaldson also changed his proposal so parades would remain at 25 percent reimbursement due to their inability to sell vendor spots along Main Street.

Five events would be impacted: the Jeep Invasion during the annual Jeep Festival, Cruise-A-Palooza, the Butler Road Race, the Butler Fall Festival, and the Spirit of Christmas Parade.

Donaldson said the Memorial and Veterans Day parades would be exempt from the fees as they are now.

Last year the overtime costs of these events ranged from about $1,300 to $6,100, with organizers responsible for paying $330 to $1,500 in support.

Councilman Bill May said before the motion was tabled that he opposed it.

“I understand the concern with overtime costs, but we should be looking at this as an investment in our town,” he said. “These events bring tens of thousands of people to downtown Butler.”

Council members will discuss the motion at next month’s meeting. If approved, the amended ordinance would need another reading and vote the following month before it goes into effect.

Ed Schnur, the treasurer of the Rodfathers Motorsports Club of Butler, which sponsors the Cruise-A-Palooza in the summer, spoke against the motion.

“I looked over the numbers and there’s no possible way we can put on the activity paying so much money,” he told council. “It just can’t happen.”

Sheri Hershberger, the president of the Butler Fall Festival, also expressed concern about the fees to council.

“This would be significant,” she said of an increase of the city fee.

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