looks like the events put on by DTC and MAMA in Downtown Tempe are really put on by the City of Tempe. MAMA owes Tempe $127,000 for the last three festivals. MAMA is paying off Tempe $6,000 a month with out any interest. At that rate it will take MAMA almost two years (21 months) to pay off the current bill.
Downtown Tempe festivals bring visitors, city expenses
By Bob Petrie
The Arizona Republic
Dec. 2, 2002
TEMPE - As yet another festival rolls into downtown Tempe this weekend, along come the costs of providing police, fire and other city services to maintain control and keep the streets clean.
For some events, the city eats those costs, ranging into hundreds of thousands of dollars, at a time when money is exceptionally tight at City Hall, which just finished cutting 125 positions to balance its books.
For others, such as the Mill Avenue Merchants Association Fall Festival, running Friday through Sunday, the promoters are contracted to pay. But the city says the merchants association owes it $127,000 in back fees for its past three festivals, and the organization has been on a monthly, no-interest repayment plan, at $6,000 a month.
While the business group is making regular payments, the services for this weekend's event will add $85,000 to its bill to the city.
"Every time you get caught up, you get new billings," said Patrick Flynn, assistant city manager.
Police Chief Ralph Tranter considered asking the merchants association to hire its own security for the fall festival, before deciding to move ahead and bill them for overtime to hire Tempe officers.
Executive Director Gary Sanders disputes the total amount owed the city, but says that negotiations are ongoing to work out a new contract with Tempe.
"We're trying to get to something that works for everybody," Sanders said, declining further comment.
Flynn says the group probably wouldn't mind getting its city services gratis, similar to the Fiesta Bowl for its New Year's Eve Block Party, the Kiwanis Club for the Fourth of July fireworks show, and Tempe Sister Cities for Oktoberfest.
"I'm sure if I were in their shoes, there would be concerns about that, why them and not us?" he said.
Last year's Block Party cost the city $269,365 in services, and the July 4 show $112,204. The Oktoberfest checked in at $28,000, according to the city.
Art Jacobs, a Tempe resident who regularly questions the city on event costs, thinks all promoters should pay the freight.
"If they want to put on an event, get the money. Put it up," Jacobs said.
The message may be getting through.
A City Council subcommittee last week agreed to a review of the city's special event policy and costs. "It's always healthy to step back and revisit things," Flynn said.
But Mayor Neil Giuliano prefers a case-by-case review of events.
"The events are not the same and the impact is not the same," Giuliano said.
He said the Fiesta Bowl returned $72,000 last year to the Tempe Community Council after last year's block party turned a profit.
Flynn said to cut off all events from free city services is "a two-edged sword," since the city has long sought to bring festivals and other street parties downtown.
While charging promoters for services may save the city money, Flynn says it could also drive festivals elsewhere.