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Brooksville may reinstate fee waiver program

BROOKSVILLE — A popular fee waiver program that once provided financial assistance to organizers of special events in Brooksville could make a comeback Monday if the City Council can decide how the program will be implemented.

Council members, looking to shave as much as they could from last year's budget, chose to eliminate the $7,000 in annual funding for the program, which provided money for such things as police presence, road closures and parade permits. At least part of the reason for the elimination was the inconsistent method of awarding waivers.

Since then, organizers of successful annual events such as the Brooksville Cycling Classic, a Veteran's Day parade and the Brooksville Kiwanis Christmas Parade have had to come up with the money on their own.

Council member Joe Bernardini, who voted to eliminate the waivers, said he did so mainly because the lack of a fair policy often meant the fund was depleted long before end of the fiscal year. That meant that late-comers — even those who had worthy events capable of drawing hundreds of visitors to Brooksville — were often left out.

"We had people applying for the money when we didn't have it to give," he said. "To me, it just wasn't fairly administered."

At last month's final 2012-13 budget hearing, council members voted to reinstate the program after finding an additional $7,000 in the budget. The council instructed City Manager Jennene-Norman Vacha to come up with a policy that would assure certain criteria are met before a fee waiver can be granted.

If approved, the new policy would allow the council to approve either full or partial fee waivers for events that are within the city limits; open to the public; supported by business, community or service groups, and deemed by the council to be positive for the city and its image.

Laura DeWitt, a co-owner of Get Healthy: Brooksville and organizer of next weekend's Brooksville Cycling Classic, said that a return of the fee waivers would enable the charitable event to distribute money to local nonprofit organizations. She said she hoped the council will grant $2,065 in fee waivers for the third annual cycling classic.

"When you're putting on a bike race fundraiser, expenses like police and street closures add up fast," DeWitt said. "Brooksville needs to do whatever it can to support good events that bring visitors to our area."

Logan Neill can be reached at (352) 848-1435 or lneill@tampabay.com.

Brooksville may reinstate fee waiver program 10/12/12 [Last modified: Friday, October 12, 2012 8:38pm]
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