Chiefland establishes fee for events that require road closures

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Suzette Cook, Reporter

The Chiefland City Commission established a $250 fee to be charged to any event held in the City that requires road closures and the use of City personnel and equipment.

Annual events that require road closures include the annual Watermelon Festival and parade, the Homecoming Parade, Veterans Day parade, Winter Christmas Festival and 5K run and the MLK Love March.

According to City Manager Mary Ellzey, the City expensed more than $5,000 covering the costs of road closures for these five events. The cost of closing roads in Chiefland for events often involves overtime or holiday pay for police officers, plus utilities and other expenses.

The average annual fiscal impact to City taxpayers for the Watermelon Festival is $1,849.23, the Winter Christmas Festival is $1,822.77, the Chiefland High Homecoming Parade is $392.14, and the MLK Love March is $883.98.

Newly appointed Mayor Chris Jones said he wanted to make sure any fees agreed on by the Commission are applied across the board. Initially, he said there was discussion of grandfathering in some of the traditional events.

“We’re going to have to be firm,” he said.

Ellzey suggested that the Homecoming and Veterans parades be exempt from being charged. The Commission also discussed waiving fees for events that are City sponsored.

Jones brought up that some event planners deemed it “racist” to charge one group and not another.

Vice Mayor Tim West said the bottom line was protecting taxpayers’ money. “The only color I care about up here is green,” he said. “I’d rather be fair across the board and obviously would like traditional parades to continue on unpaid, but it’s become difficult to say a select few is okay. I’m in favor of making one charge for all.”

After discussion, the Commission decided to set a consistent fee.

West made the motion to allow the City to charge $250 for event-driven road closures in the City.

Based on past scrutiny from community members, Jones said he disagreed with charging all events a fee.

When put to a vote. the motion passed three to one with Jones voting against it.