Reno ponders charging exhibitors more
RENO – Reno officials are looking into charging more for special events in the future, contending that the cost of overseeing the shows outweighs their economic benefit.
The city spent nearly $827,000 providing police and street workers for the largest 21 events of 2003, but billed the organizers of those events just $159,000 in fees, and its estimated sales tax revenue from the largest event, Hot August Nights, was less than was spent on extra services that week.
“There’s a huge misconception that the city benefits greatly for all these huge events by room tax when we certainly don’t,” said Kate Thomas, assistant to the city manager.
City Manager Charles McNeely is hoping to revise the rules for events to both streamline the application process while forcing organizers to pay for use of the city services. That way, taxpayers aren’t subsidizing events that, in some cases, make money for private companies.
“We don’t think that’s fair, so what we’re proposing here is some shifting of that cost,” McNeely said.
Special events have grown steadily as a part of Reno’s culture during the past decade. In 1997, the city had about 60 events. But while that number had more than doubled by this summer, the city continues to operate under procedures and fee structures that were written and adopted in 1997 and 2001.
A proposed ordinance, which has been delayed until February while the city conducts workshops with event organizers, promoters and businesses, would force event organizers to pay the estimated cost of city services as a permit fee – a process that would essentially cover city expenditures.
Larger events, such as the Reno Air Races and Street Vibrations, could operate under contracts with the city that still would leave the city co-sponsoring the events, but in a more limited fashion.
Smaller events could receive as much as $2,000 worth of city assistance for the first two years of the event, but would have to pay their own way in the third year.