NEW PORT RICHEY — In an effort to ease the city's cost of supporting special events designed to bring entertainment and crowds to the downtown area, a committee on Thursday came up with 14 ideas.
Eight members of the committee sought to ease the estimated $180,000 price tag for that support without killing events like the annual Chasco Fiesta, a Christmas parade, July 4 fireworks and charity fundraisers.
"Nobody wants for any of these events to go away," said City Manager John Schneiger. "But if we have to cut library hours and rec center hours, we can't have special events costing us."
The committee, originally formed last year by the City Council to come up with events that would make money for the community, now found itself with a new focus.
Ideas ranged from seeking help from the Pasco Sheriff's Department to relieve some of the city's police department's burden, to event coordinators and volunteers picking up their own trash after events, to finding new ways to transport barricades.
After 2½ hours, committee member Steve Schurdell wondered whether Chasco Fiesta might be cut from 11 days to maybe 4.
Chasco Fiesta, which dates back to 1922, is the largest event that brings in the most money for nonprofits. But it is also the most costly.
Last year, the city paid $85,652 for police, fire, public works and parks and recreation services.
Schneiger said his staff had to extract all cost information manually because they had never kept track of it before.
"I don't want to even guess how many staff hours it took to gather this information," he said. "But now we have to come up with solutions.''
He said the city has never had a specific budget for special events.
"In most cases and in most cities, special events are just integrated into the overall budget," he said.
Dan Sullivan, Bike Fest coordinator, argued that because he was never told how much the city spent on special events, there was no way in knowing how to keep costs low. "We can't figure out where to cut costs, if we don't know where the costs are," he said. "As an event we know what our cost was, but the city never let us know what it was costing them, so how could we have cut costs?"
Schneiger plans to present the ideas to the City Council officials during next Tuesday's meeting.