By Kaitlin Mayhewfirstname.lastname@example.org
FRONT ROYAL -- The Town Council discussed two proposed ordinances during its Monday work session that could add fees for organizers of downtown parades and festivals.
The way ordinances governing "special events" stand currently there is no fee in place for use of police and solid waste service.
In the amending ordinances that were laid out at the work session, the organizers would pay an hourly fee for both services based upon the number of expected attendees.
For example an event with fewer than 750 attendees would pay the town $50 an hour for police and $40 an hour for waste services. An event with 3,000 or more guests would be charged $250 and $120 an hour respectively.
According to Town Manager Steve Burke, the reason for adding the fees would be to help the town recoup some of the money it spends on the events.
Mayor Tim Darr pointed out that the goal of the change is not for the town to make money.
"The town doesn't make profit on this," he said. "This is just trying to provide the services and make sure that we recoup some costs."
Councilman Thomas Conkey added that the town does actually make a profit as a direct result of the festivals via the restaurants and businesses in downtown Front Royal.
"I think this is an investment that the town should be making based on that," he said.
Councilman Hollis Tharpe said that he would not support the change.
"I would support half the rates that are requested." he said. "I don't feel that we need to recoup everything."
Burke said that this is the first time that the numbers have been brought before council showing how much the town actually spends, and that there is room for revision.
Steve Sill, who is one of the organizers of the Christkindlemarkt festival held each December in Front Royal expressed that the town does have designated money in its budget for tourism.
"We have a budget line for tourism," he said. "It's either worth it to us as a community to pay for these types of events or it's not."
Darr added that he believed that it was important to make it beneficial for the people organizing the festivals.
"We do get some revenue, and a lot of these organizations are nonprofits and charities, and these festivals are the only fundraisers some of them have all year," he said. "We don't want to hamper them to a point where it's not worth them having a festival."
Darr added that the matter will be brought back to the council at another work session.