CLAYTON, CA (Sept. 18, 2023) — In August, the Clayton City Council approved an update to the city’s Master Fee Schedule. This concludes the process that began several months ago and updates our fees to ensure the city is recovering its costs when it performs certain services.
In addition, when a portion of the city is being rented as a venue for an event, the city has the right to collect a fee in exchange for that use.
As large events in our downtown create a disproportionate use of staff time and resources that isn’t well captured in a line item fee schedule, we added a Special Events Fee to our Master Fee Schedule that is tiered based on the size of the event. This is analogous to a park or other facility rental on a larger scale.
For many years, the city’s downtown has been the venue for several commercially successful events. During that time, the city chose to waive substantially all fees associated with the rental of its facilities.
During the public hearing regarding the update to the fee schedule, several speakers extolled the virtues of the Clayton Business & Community Association (CBCA). On that front, I agree. The organization adds a tremendous amount of value to the community, and I commend the generosity of both the organization and its volunteers.
These activities, however, do not exempt anyone from having to pay for use of city facilities. Fee waivers or discounts represent taxpayer-funded subsidies and should be made judiciously. To the extent that the city does not collect fees that it is able, taxes from residents must make up the difference.
Earlier, I made a proposal that could lower or waive fees even further if the CBCA and the city entered into a revenue-sharing agreement that could be mutually beneficial. This should be familiar to the CBCA, since they engage in a revenue-sharing arrangement with vendors that come to their events.
Historically, while using the city facilities at no charge, the CBCA earned revenue by collecting a portion of gross revenue from food sales at events like the Art & Wine Festival. In addition, each vendor pays the CBCA for the privilege of renting space on city streets – those same streets on which the CBCA has had their fees waived for the past 15 years.
Unfortunately, the CBCA board rejected this proposal without discussion or any exploration of what might be possible. They made no counter proposal.
It appears that the position of the organization is that the only acceptable option is to be able to continue to use city facilities for free. That would not be a prudent position for the city to take, and it would be unfair to our residents.
In other news, the California Energy Commission recently approved a $1.9 million loan at 1% interest to support city efforts for energy modernization and resiliency. This will fund the transformational work that Climatec proposed earlier in the year.
Planning is beginning and work will start in mid-2024. We will be adding solar arrays, car chargers, new HVAC systems, new lighting throughout the city, monitoring and auto shutoff of water mains, and a host of other energy-efficiency activities over the next 12-18 months.
Because of the low interest rate loan, the city should see positive cash flows from savings within one year of project completion.
Related story: New Clayton fee schedule puts downtown festivals in jeopardy.
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