Aug 17, 2018

Troutdale city staff: Community events a burden?

In a recent Gresham Outlook article,  Troutdale city manager Ray Young proposed that the city should charge additional fees to the non-profit organizers of community events to  recoup the $18,000 in costs and staff time for road-blocking "Bollards" during events in downtown Troutdale.

“We are recommending to council to begin charging something," Young said. "It is a burden on staff, which means the city subsidizes events on closed streets, to review plans, close streets and monitor the traffic issues."

Why does city staff feel that subsidizing community events is a burden? 

I’ve lived in Troutdale since 2001. I served on the city council for four years, and on the city’s budget committee for at least eight years. In all that time, I’ve never heard a city employee claim that subsidizing community events was “a burden on staff”.

The city of Troutdale has a long history subsidizing the costs of special events, such as Summerfest, the Christmas tree lighting, and the Troutdale cruise-in. The city’s leaders and its citizens have financially supported these events because they know they have a positive impact on the city’s local economy. More importantly, these events give a major boost to Troutdale’s community spirit and pride.

These non-profit events, which Mr. Young was quoted as saying are a “burden” to city staff, succeed in attracting visitors who spend money in Troutdale. That money creates income and supports jobs in Troutdale. The people who have those jobs in Troutdale use that income to pay taxes. Some of those taxes go to pay for Troutdale city employees. These events are a win-win for city staff, Troutdale residents, and the non-profits who receive donations resulting from these events.

The Gresham Outlook has also questioned why the city wants to burden community events with costly additional fees and red tape. In their Thursday, August 16, 2018 online edition, the Gresham Outlook wrote, in their editorial "Bollard' fee puts public events at-risk in Troutdale", 

Having said that, it's disappointing to hear that the city of Troutdale may impose a fee — for installation and removal of bollards — on groups that organize these events. Many of these groups are nonprofit organizations, most with tiny budgets, and in some cases they're raising funds for a philanthropic purpose. Imposing an additional fee would likely siphon off dollars away from charitable organizations that benefit from these events.Given that the city of Troutdale operates with a $10 million annual budget, the city could easily absorb the $18,000 cost of the bollards without breaking a sweat.”

I urge Troutdale residents to contact the Troutdale city council  and demand that “no extra fees or charges” i.e. the “bollard fee”  should be charged for  non-profit community events in Troutdale.

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