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Brooksville revives fee waiver program to help special events offset costs

BROOKSVILLE — The Brooksville City Council has approved a plan to revive its fee waiver program to help organizers of special events offset costs.

The council adopted a policy on Monday night that spells out which events would be eligible for the assistance. The criteria include public events that are in the city limits and that are supported by business, community or service groups, and are deemed by the council to be positive for the city's image.

"It's not perfect, but it's a start," Vice Mayor Lara Bradburn said of the policy. "It will probably get some fine-tuning as we go along."

Funded annually at $7,000, the program was eliminated last year by the council, primarily due to budget constraints. But council members agreed to revive it last month during their final budget hearing.

Loss of the waivers meant that organizers of annual events such as the Veterans Parade, Brooksville Kiwanis Christmas Parade and the Brooksville Cycling Classic were forced to pay for items such as police presence, road closures and parade permits that traditionally had been covered by the fee waiver program.

The revival of the program was good news to Brooksville Kiwanis Club member Dave Hamilton, who is this year's Christmas parade chairman.

"It's our biggest fundraiser of the year, and not having to pay those fees means that money will go toward other community activities we provide," said Hamilton, who believes the club will make a formal appeal for assistance at the next council meeting.

Council member Joe Bernardini said he still has a few concerns about the program, including its fairness.

"I'm still not sure we're all on board as to what gets funded and what doesn't," Bernardini said. "We all have our favorite charities. Is it fair to the taxpayers that we choose which ones we support and which ones we don't?"

Bernardini said he also has concerns that the majority of the money goes toward paying for police presence, and asked staffers to look into the possibility of using money from a fund generated by forfeitures from criminal activities.

"I have no problem using money from bad people to pay for good things," Bernardini said.

Meanwhile, the Brooksville Cycling Classic became the first recipient of the revived program. Organizers received $2,065 in fee waivers for their third annual event, which kicks off Saturday in downtown Brooksville.

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

Brooksville revives fee waiver program to help special events offset costs 10/17/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 17, 2012 6:49pm]
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