A recently approved special events permit regulations ordinance passed by the city commission may eliminate or substantially diminish iconic South Miami community seasonal events according to event hosts.
New requirements for event permits are still being finalized by the city manager says Mayor Phillip Stoddard. The established parameters include: neighborhood consensus approval prior to affected street closings, city clean up and police protection deposits in advance, financial reimbursements for any perceived lost city revenue, and insurance liability coverage in several categories.
President of the Red Sunset Merchant Association and co-proprietor of Footworks along with his wife Laurie, Hans Huseby, recently addressed the commission in absolute exasperation for the bureaucratic hoops imposed on their not for profit organization TeamFootworks during their annual Twilight Run 5 K.
For over twenty years TeamFootworks has been organizing community races like the Mercedes Benz Run and Twilight Run to benefit area causes such as the South Miami Police Explorers and many other area charities.
Huseby told the commissioners that if the Twilight Run Race was again charged ambiguous fees in excess of $10,000. for the privilege to host a community run (although those fees have since been waived and a $600. fee was ultimately imposed) they would simply call it quits.
“If the $10,000 Twilight Run fee happened again we would not come back and that would really be a shame for the city. We have been around for 25 years like the fabric that is part of our town and this is not a threat but it would just be financially foolish to put these events on in the future with these kind of costs. Our profits come from donations and we don’t like to toot our own horn but anybody can look at our books and see since our inception our event monies have been donated right back into the community,” said TeamFootworks founder Hans Huseby.
Mayor Stoddard says the fees will actually more likely be cheaper now than they were in the past and establishing a uniform system will prevent the excessive fees and confusion felt by community hosting organizations in the past.
Stoddard explained “This is not a revenue generating objective; we are simply covering the city’s expenses. Liability insurance will depend on the event, like a parade for example would incur more coverage. The potential cost losses to the city for special events are still under review by the city manager.”
The South Miami Rotary Club recently addressed the commission in hopes of waving the permit requirements to host their annual popular art show which according to the organization draws over 30,000 visitors to South Miami, 84% of which say they will return according to the group’s data. This popular art show last year was also charged in excess of over $10,000. for street closings.
South Miami Rotary Club President Horace Feliu says the city really needs to look at the big picture. “We should respect, value and support our community traditions. These events showcase South Miami, they bring in new people, the merchants benefit, and it is free advertising for the city. The South Miami Rotary Club contributes to the academic support of area schools and kids with its proceeds from the art show.”
Mayor Stoddard said many of the original fees imposed on groups were eventually waived and he stated that he supported a waiver of the fees for the February South Miami Rotary Club Art Show.
According to Stoddard the street closing charges would be 25 cents per foot along with meter fees. This cost alone could potentially run into the thousands of dollars for the Twilight Run.
Huseby takes particular issue with the street closings saying they are not toll roads and why should the street closings themselves be an issue. As President of the Red Sunset Merchant Association, he indicated the group is working on a letter to the city to not impose fees other than fire protection, police, and meters.
Huseby wonders “Why can’t the Twilight Run hire a private company to do post clean up? Why do we have to be forced to pay someone from public works to do it? Is it creating busy work for a public employee? It is not like we are a bunch of carpetbaggers here to rip off the local yokels. This is our community and events like ours should be embraced and enthusiastically supported. The Parade of Elves, Twilight Run, Chamber South and South Miami Art Show are the heart and soul of our city.”
Feliu agrees that the basics such as fire rescue, police and trash clean up should be standard practice and end there. “When it brings hardship to an event host as it did to Bill Steckley and the folks at Volksblast it becomes counterproductive.”
Stoddard remains hopeful the changes in event permit fees will streamline the process and make it easier and cheaper for sponsors to host a South Miami experience. He added that the Farmer’s Market permit fee waivers which some residents had issues with, will only be waived around the proximity of city hall because it is a city sponsored event. Any signage around town promoting the market will also be subject to the permit ordinance stipulations.