On a 4-3 vote, the Brighton City Council Thursday night voted to charge fees for civic events beginning next year. The fees will eventually total one-half of the city’s costs. It costs the city over $77,000 in public safety, DPW and other fees to host the civic events each year.

The fees will be assessed incrementally: 1/3 of the 50% of the city’s costs the first year, 1/3 the second year and another third the final year, so that the event sponsors eventually will be paying half of the cost to the city. its officials say the city is in dire financial straits, Council Member Jon Emaus lamented that at the present rate, according to current projections, the city will be virtually "bankrupt" in several years.

Three events held each year were taken off the civic events list so that they won’t have to pay anything. They are the three parades held annually: The Memorial Day parade, 4th of July parade and Veterans Day parade. That reduces the figure that the other sponsors need to come up with to about $64,000. Numerous members of the business community, from small shop owners to local chamber of commerce executives, urged council not to assess fees to the sponsors for holding the events. Barb Binkley, who with her husband Mark own Cooper & Binkley Jewelers, says charging fees for civic events is wrong - because the businesses support the community in many ways.

Council Member Jon Emaus, who proposed exempting the parades from fees, said that the parades are different than the other civic events because they are totally non-commercial, and the rest of council concurred. A motion by Mayor Pro Tem Shawn Pipoly to charge 1/3 of the eventual 50% the first year, another third the second year and the final third the third year – figures which include rental of The AMP (the downtown’s new amphitheater and band shell) passed on a 4-3 vote. The fees don’t go into effect until the 20-21 fiscal year, which starts on July 1st of next year.

A motion by Council Member Kris Tobbe to asses 10% to event sponsors in 2020 and, in the meantime, form a task force of councilmembers, city staff and representatives from the downtown business community - and then come up with a recommendation to council - failed on a 5-2 vote.

The Kiwanis Club’s Dennis Dimoff tells WHMI that he isn’t ready to throw in the towel, and hopes to come up with a solution to the difficult funding issue in the months ahead. Dimoff says in the third year of the incremental fee increases it will cost the Kiwanis Club about $9,000 to rent The Amp and hold the gazebo concerts. After the meeting, WHMI sought comment from city officials on the civic events issue, but they declined to comment. (TT)