Lewiston councilors may cap spending on special events

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LEWISTON — City staff will ask councilors to cap the number of publicly supported special events, including festivals and benefit races, as a money-saving measure.

The new policy, expected to go before councilors Tuesday, will set aside city support for 32 events — 15 runs, walks or races; 16 festivals, concerts or community events; and one event outside the community.

Those include all events that received city support in 2014.

Organizers of new community events, concerts and races would have to pay fees and permits, use of equipment and hire staff or fill a slot left when an approved event is canceled.

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“People will still be able to do this stuff, if they are willing to pay 100 percent of the costs — all of the licenses, all of the permits, all of the staff time,” Nadeau said. “We are not in this to make money. It’s just for us to cover our costs.”

That’s about as many events as city staff, including police and the Public Works Department, can manage to cover.

“Our organization has been contracting for several years,” Nadeau said. “We’ve reduced staff at Public Works, at the Recreation Department. And it’s getting to the point where the number of events is beginning to become a project management problem. Those events do require staff time.”

For example, the city could continue to support the Dempsey Challenge, which would fall under the running race category. The Liberty Festival, the Great Falls Balloon Festival and the summer-long downtown Friday night art walks could all qualify for city help.

The annual Greek Festival would qualify as a small event that requests the use of city assets but no staff time.

Nadeau said there would be two openings on the list of approved events if councilors approved the policy change. One running event and a downtown car show that occurred last year is not scheduled for next year, Nadeau said.

“And it’s always possible for someone to appeal something to the City Council,” Nadeau said.

The new policy also is meant to streamline the special-event approval process. Event planners now must fill out three forms to get city help. The policy change would combine them into a single form.

It also puts all special events management into the city administrator’s office and makes it more clear when city councilors must approve events and when city financial help is not possible. It also more clearly defines city fees and explains city policy regarding liability insurance.

staylor@sunjournal.com

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