City DopeNews

ACC Considers Raising Fees for Events and Out-of-Towners

Staging an event in downtown Athens could become more expensive for organizers, if Athens-Clarke County officials accept suggestions for increasing the level of insurance coverage required for those events.

At a Nov. 17 meeting of the ACC Commission’s Government Operations Committee, Central Services Director David Fluck presented a draft document on special-event minimum insurance coverage requirements. Staff drafted the document after consulting with the Georgia Interlocal Risk Management Agency, which insures ACC for property and liability.

In addition to a commercial liability of $1 million–$2 million, events with medium or high risk would also pay for $5 million–$10 million in umbrella coverage, the draft document says. That would translate to an additional $3,000–$5,000 for organizers of high-risk events—those attracting 5,000 or more people. In this category are Twilight, AthFest and the annual Fourth of July fireworks show. Events with medium risk include the Downtown Parade of Lights, the UGA homecoming parade and the AthHalf half-marathon, which have 500–5,000 participants. Both medium- and high-risk events are those that require the closing of downtown streets, serve alcohol and food and have outdoor entertainment equipment. The difference is the size of the crowd—the bigger the crowd, the bigger the umbrella coverage.

Commissioner Mike Hamby asked staff members which other communities in Georgia require umbrella coverage for special events. He also said Twilight has been going for 30 years and AthFest for 20 years, both with no problems. Hamby and Commissioner Melissa Link asked about the risk category for the Human Rights Festival, which closes downtown streets but doesn’t serve alcohol.

A new definition of “special event” includes wording that says “provides a substantial public and community benefit” and has its primary purpose “entertainment, recreation and/or education,” which could apply to the Human Rights Festival. Link wondered how craft fairs would be classified. Staff assured the elected officials that the document is a draft and that more work is coming. 

 In other business, Kent Kilpatrick, interim director of the Department of Leisure Services, told the committee about a problem involving scholarship recipients for summer camps. Some families, he said, register children for camp and then never attend, effectively taking a spot from another family whose children would benefit from attending camp. Link wondered if the department could secure scholarship sponsors. Hamby said any decision about scholarship students should come before the full commission, not just the committee.

Committee chairman Andy Herod endorsed the idea of charging out-of-county residents a higher fee to enter Athens’ public pools, as well as to be admitted into Sandy Creek Park. Pool facilities in Gwinnett and Hall counties have higher fees for out-of-county attendees.

Local ordinances require the manager to publicize the fee increase six months before it would take effect. Kilpatrick said that enacting a higher fee would be “challenging,” but that doing so is possible. He wondered if raising the price would result in a significant drop in attendance. The counties surrounding ACC don’t have public pools.

“I’m sick of these surrounding counties thumbing their noses at Athens-Clarke County but being happy to use our facilities,” Herod said. “I think the whole commission would be in favor of this.”