By Jane Smith
When Delray Beach passed the final version of its special events policy, no residents tried to sway the City Commission to vote for or against it.
“You won’t get a lot of people coming out to speak about it,” said Commissioner Shelly Petrolia. “But if you don’t do what they want, they will vote against you.”
The commission chamber was calm on Sept. 20 compared with the raucous scene in June when teens wearing dance or band uniforms pleaded to save the Garlic Fest. During the festival, they earn money that allows them to pay for outfits needed to participate in the Atlantic High School band or jazz dance team.
Garlic Fest has since found a new home in a county park that will allow it to be larger but still gated.
The same organizer hosts the Wine and Seafood Fest for November and the Bacon and Bourbon Fest in March. They were canceled when faced with increased costs and short lead time.
Two crafts festivals, run by promoter Howard Alan Events, also were canceled because of increased costs. But the organization kept its fine arts festival that shuts down East Atlantic Avenue over a January weekend.
Faced with increased public safety expenses related to the addiction crisis, Delray Beach is trying to recoup the costs of city services for special events. Its Finance Department devised a way to calculate the true costs, including staff time for public safety workers that covers hourly wages, benefits, overtime and pensions.
Most private promoters saw at least a doubling of their costs. To offset the sticker shock, the City Commission agreed to phase in the costs over three years.
For nonprofit events, such as the AVDA 5K/10K run, city commissioners will consider providing in-kind security services so that most of the money raised can go to the organization.
AVDA is Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse. By supporting the runs, the city also will help promote healthy activities, said Commissioner Jordana Jarjura.
“When you boil this down to those not benefiting by the events, residents and business owners, they appreciate the reduction,” Mayor Cary Glickstein said.
The policy was approved by a 4-1 vote, with Commissioner Mitch Katz voting no.
By Jane Smith