City to bump special event fees

Public Works director says there are costs associated with city's help


FORT MADISON – The Fort Madison City Council is trying to recoup a little bit of the costs of helping put on special events on city property.
At Tuesday’s regular meeting of the council, Fort Madison Public Works Director Mark Bousselot presented a new cost listing that would charge event organizers for things such as delivery of picnic tables and electrical or water usage fees.
Other fees include a non-refundable $25 application fee. On top of that are fees for barricades and traffic cone rental from $3 each with a $50 minimum. No parking signs would also cost $3 each with a $50 minimum.
Water and electric meter charges are $75/meter per connection and city green space rental will be tallied at $50 month.
In the parks and recreation department, shelter house rentals will vary and be billed separate from the $25 special event permit fee. Picnic tables will be $30 per table or $150 per trailer load of eight. Garbage can delivery has been set at $60 for six cans and a tent or bounce house inspection is $30.
The picnic table and garbage can delivery will only be available for events held on city-owned property or right-of-way.
There will also be a $15 per day food vendor license or $40 for 3 days and carnival fee of $25 per day or $100 per week. A liquor license will be allowable and varies. Police security will be billed at $70 hour/office and fire permits will cost $20.
With the addition of some fees, the city has also eliminated fees that are associated with the number of participants. Currently, the scale is progressive and increases by $25 up to 10,000 participants. Those fees are now no longer applicable.
The delivery of picnic tables and garbage cans has tripled under the new schedule. The food vendor and carnival fees, security and fire permit fees are all remaining the same. Prior to the new fee structure, the city didn’t charge a special event fee.
The city passed an ordinance for special events in 2023 and that ordinance allows for organizers to approach the city council and ask for fees for special events to be waived for the benefit of the community.
Bousselot said when the council passed the ordinance for the special event application, the new code required the city to see fees for the events by resolution and that was what he was presenting.
“Matt (Mohrfeld) is probably going to say that we shouldn’t be charging special event fees because they bring money into our community,” Bousselot said.
"But we still have to have a fee associated because each time I’m charged for a special event, that money’s coming out of something and we’ve talked about it coming from hotel/motel tax funds.”
Mohrfeld said councilman Rusty Andrews, who wasn’t in attendance, was charged by the mayor with evaluating the fees said Andrews' opinion would very likely be the city shouldn’t be charging anybody for anything.
Councilwoman Angela Roller said she had concerns about the city possibly charging one group a fee or fees, but then waiving fees for another event.
“My issue is if we do it for one, we have to do it for all. Then it comes back to why do we have the fee? I don’t want to sit up here and say one event has to pay and another doesn’t,” Roller said.
Bousselot reiterated that the current code allows people to come to ask for the fees to be waived.
“You’re getting into it based on that ordinance we passed,” Bousselot said. “You’re going to have people coming and asking, guaranteed. You had it before the ordinance was in place and you’re going to have it now.”
Roller said she understood but she reiterated that she had trouble waiving it for certain people or groups and not others.
Bousselot said they have to have a fee so they know what to take out of hotel/motel taxes to pay for the services, or the group would have to pay.
“Think about it. We’re taking it, loading it up, we're hauling to whatever site, and going back to pick it up again. There’s labor associated with that and vehicle wear and tear,” Bousselot said.
In other action:
• the council approved signing off on a Federal Recreational Trails grant to help with Phase V of the PORT Trail on 48th Street, The grant will help reimburse engineering and design fees.
• the council entered into a continuing agreement with Alliant Energy for Interruptable Service at the water plant in exchange for a discount on rates charged to the city.
• approved contracts with the city fire and police department unions for two years. The agreements allow for a 5% annual increase with no health insurance premium increases.
• approved appointing Melinda Blind to the Fort Madison Housing Authority, Adriene Jenkins to the City Library Board, and Savanna Collier to the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission.

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