After some deliberation the Maricopa Parks, Recreation and Library Committee voted Aug. 23 to grant requests for fee waivers from organizations looking to host events at Copper Sky.
“We have to draw the line on a lot of things that we don’t want to.” — PRL committee member Tommy Ronca
The approval to waive certain fees for both the Relay for Life event and a Maricopa High School Alumni football game came after much concern was voiced by members of the committee about the dependency organizations may develop on fee waivers and how the loss of those funds affects the city’s bottom line.
Last year, the city waived around $2,500 in fees for Relay for Life, leaving about $500 in costs for the organization to foot.
This year, members from the Relay for Life team requested a waiver for the remaining $500, citing services the money could provide to their members.
“That $500 does not seem like a lot,” Trisha Paige with Relay for Life said. “But it could have paid for 50 patients to have gotten a ride to the doctor.”
The organization was set to receive waivers proportionate to last year’s event, costs that had, in fact, been reduced significantly this year due to newly installed energy-efficient LED lighting in certain areas of Copper Sky.
Despite the reduced costs, committee member Al Brandenburg expressed concern with the organization’s request. He, like most on the committee, has had his life impacted by cancer. However, he said, “we have to think with our heads not our hearts.”
Though everyone on the committee wants to help whenever possible, Brandenburg said, those waivers are lost income for the city, which is already struggling with finances in certain areas, including Copper Sky.
Committee member Tommy Ronca is one of two members of the committee personally affected by cancer. He agreed with Brandenburg.
“We have to draw the line on a lot of things that we don’t want to,” Ronca said. “It hurts us; it hurts me.”
Eventually the committee was able to tweak the expenses associated with the amphitheater and ramada rentals, bringing the waiver amount down to around $1,920 and cutting Relay for Life’s portion down to about $320.
Maricopa High School Principal Renita Meyers and assistant principal Mallory Miller made the second fee-waiver request of the night. They sought waiver of the fees associated with the use of a field and parking lot at Copper Sky for the alumni football game Sept. 14 during MHS homecoming week.
The amount of the requested waiver was $335, approximately $75 less than requested by MHS last year.
The waiver was quickly granted as several members of the committee rejoiced in the fact that the MHS request was less than the previous year, a trend they hope to see with all organizations requesting fee waivers.
After the vote of approval, the committee discussed possibly establishing a more rigid policy for waiver applicants, including the implementation of a graduated system that would lower the amount waived each year the organization applied for a waiver.
The hope with this policy is that applicants will become more aggressive in finding outside sources of funds to help cover the cost of events.
The committee also talked about vetting applicants, ensuring they are indeed a 501(c)(3) or similar organization and determining how much the event will actually impact Maricopa directly.