Wednesday, November 24, 2010

SV sets event-funding sunset

City Council establishes 5-year limit on funding events

Express Staff Writer

Any event wanting funding from the city of Sun Valley will now need to jump through a few more hoops, and will be cut off after five years.

The City Council unanimously approved a new event-funding policy on Thursday, Nov. 18, requiring event planners to fill out a seven-page application detailing all their spending and income. The policy sets an award limit of $50,000, though council members agreed that the city would probably never approve a funding request that high.

Council members Nils Ribi and Bob Youngman drafted the new method to bring more accountability to the process, allowing the city to understand why event planners need the amount they're asking for and why the city should provide it. The new rules require event planners to prove that their event would "help grow the local-option tax," meaning that it would attract visitors to spend money in the town for lodging, shopping or dining out.

The new method would also cut off funding to events after five years and lessen the amount of money they're eligible for each year up to then. Previously, no cap existed. The first draft of the proposed contract, presented Oct. 21, showed event planners being eligible for up to $5,000 in the first and second years that they ask for money then for gradually decreasing amounts to a maximum of $1,000 in the fifth and final year.

Councilwoman Joan Lamb and Mayor Wayne Willich said during a meeting on Oct. 21 that they were uneasy about the dollar-amount cap, but no alternative was presented at the meeting.

Youngman said at that time that the caps are meant to promote self-sufficiency and wean event planners off government support. However, Lamb argued that these limits are unnecessary, and the values seem arbitrary.

"I don't think it helps or adds anything," she said.

Ribi and Youngman said they were open to changing the maximum number of years and funding, but maximums should be set.

At last Thursday's meeting, Lamb said she didn't want a dollar cap at all.

"You can't predict everything that will come down the pike," she said. "Don't put our hands in handcuffs here."

Lamb, however, agreed that the seven-page application is justified.

Youngman compromised by recommending that the maximum be set at $50,000 for the first and second years that someone asks for money, which would slide down to a $10,000 max the fifth and final year.

"This gives us full leeway to fund anything done in the past or will do in the future," he said.

Ribi agreed, saying that a low cap isn't absolutely necessary because the in-depth application process now requires event planners to prove why they need the money they're requesting. If they can't prove it, the city can simply say no.

"The key thing to this is that it brings accountability to the process," he said.

Trevon Milliard:

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