Brighton’s city manager is trying to clear up misunderstandings about a proposed civic event fee structure.

In a contentious Brighton City Council meeting on Dec. 6th that included concerns by local event organizers over proposed fees, council ended up tabling action on a new fee schedule for civic events to reimburse the city for what it costs to host the events. Since then there has been criticism of the proposal from several groups that use the Mill Pond amphitheater concerned that the fees will prevent them from holding events in the coming year. But City Manager Nate Geinzer says emphatically that the city does not intend to make any changes for the coming year in the current fee schedule. The new fees are being reviewed as part of next year’s city budget, following August’s unsuccessful Headlee Override request. Given the fact that the fee schedule will remain the same for 2019, Geinzer says city staff will be sending out civic event applications in late January or early February. Several officials from local organizations, including Pam McConeghy of the Greater Brighton Area Chamber of Commerce, Rick Bailey of the Livingston County Concert Band and Dennis Dimoff of the Brighton Kiwanis Club, told council at the last meeting that they couldn’t afford the proposed fee increases. In addition they said they have to know what their costs will be months in advance. Dimoff said he starts booking the bands for the Kiwanis Mill Pond summer gazebo concerts in early January and has to know what his costs will be. Otherwise, he told council, there won't be any Sunday Mill Pond concerts in the coming season. Likewise, Bailey said what he called the “low budget” county concert band couldn’t afford a proposed fee of $300 for its Tuesday summer concerts.

Geinzer said the $94,000 in city costs cited in a WHMI article on Dec. 7th, that were contained in the Dec 6th meeting packet, was an error due to a computation mistake by staff, and the actual costs of civic events borne by the city is about $73,000. The Civic events include Ladies’ Night Out, Flower Day, the Memorial Day Parade, St. Patrick’s 5-K Run, Optimists Club Fishing Derby, July 4th Parade and related events, Kiwanis Gazebo Concerts, A Taste of Brighton, the Fine Art and Acoustic Music Festival, Smokin’ Jazz & Barbecue Blues Festival, Harvest Fest, Alzheimer’s Walk, BHS Homecoming Parade, Veteran’s Day Parade, and Holiday Glow. Civic event costs to the City range anywhere from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars, depending on the event.

Had the cost structure passed as proposed, the fee for use of the new Mill Pond amphitheater and adjacent new band shell would have been $300 per half-day and $500 for a full day. For a civic/special event performance series, it would have been $1,000 per 4, one-half days. The reimbursement costs for city DPW services would have been $31.36 per hour and $44.15 per hour for police dept. personnel, with 1.5 times the rate for overtime for both. Reimbursed electrician services would cost the organizer of the event $67.50 per hour. For 2019, the organizer would have paid 50% of all fees incurred for it plus 100% of supplies and contractor fees, as recommended by the City Council’s Fiscal Realities Task Force. Geinzer notes that civic event reimbursement fees are also common in other communities. He says the proposed civic event reimbursement fee is part of a larger recommendation by the Council Task Force to fill an annual $2 million funding gap for investments in streets and related infrastructure totaling $1.85 million and other costs amounting to $150,000. Geinzer said members of council will continue to discuss the recommendations of the Task Force in the coming months. (TT/JK)