Written by Katie Piacentini Friday, 22 January 2010 00:00
At the Jan. 14 Board of Trustees meeting, the Garden City Village Board discussed the possibility of charging a fee to organizations who hold events such as races and parades within the village in order to cover a percentage of the additional costs associated with these events. These additional costs include overtime fees for police protection and cleanup by the Department of Public Works.
This discussion was initiated by a request from the Garden City Teacher’s Association to hold a 5K Run/Walk and a 1.5 mile Fun Run/Walk on Saturday, April 17 to raise money for Garden City for a Cure. Trustee Episcopia stated that while this race is for a good cause, just like the Turkey Trot, overtime fees for the police and public departments will come from the taxpayers, which totals close to $6,000.
“Given the current situation we are in, our ability to raise funds is limited,” Episcopia said. He added that the board should consider charging this group 50 percent of the overtime fees and proposed doing this for the Turkey Trot, as well.
Arguing against this suggestion, Trustee Watras defended the value of these events for Garden City. “I know we have a really tight budget and I know we are going to have some really tough decisions this year, but no, I disagree,” Watras said.
Trustee Cavanaugh agreed with Watras, stating that these events go along with the overall quality of life in the village. He said that imposing a fee for police protection “is a damper on the enthusiasm and the feeling about what the village does with and for its people and visitors…. Getting into the process of charging people who are doing a neighborly undertaking is the wrong way for us to go.”
While Trustee Mauk agreed that these events contribute to the character of the village, he also sided with the comments of Episcopia, that all of these things cost money. “Unfortunately, we are in a very difficult situation, as we all know, in the village. I think we need to be very cautious about entering into any new agreements with anybody and any event that is going to cost the village more money when we don’t have the revenue coming in at this point.”
The board also explored several ideas on how to reduce this cost, such as using an alternative route. Mayor Rothschild stated that the GCTA plans to end the race on Rockaway Avenue, which would cause at least half of the street to be closed. He suggested ending the race at the school track, which would be a more protected area. Trustee Schoelle said that he had suggested alternate locations, but none of those locations had worked out for the GCTA.
Since there were several unknowns about this proposed race, such as how much money will be raised and how large it will be, the board wanted to receive more information before making a final decision. However, Schoelle stated the GCTA asked for a solid decision from the board at this particular meeting, since the event is coming up in April and they need to start organizing and promoting this race ahead of time.
Trustee Brudie suggested giving the GCTA the green light for this race, due to the tight timeline, but that any similar requests to the village should be looked into more and could be met with a fee. The board approved this motion and Mayor Rothschild added, “It is upon us to be better communicators on where we are going with the budget and what we will be expecting from people. This group should be advised that in the future, there will be a charge associated with events within the village.”