By Kevin Kelley
Concerns about the growing popularity of charity road races and their associated costs have caused city officials to seek an increase in the permit application fees required for such races.
An ordinance that rewrites the section of the traffic code dealing with parades and events had its second reading before City Council the night of March 18.
The ordinance, proposed by police Chief Patrick Nealon, makes four basic changes to the law:
● The permit application fee goes up from $25 to $300. However, if the costs to the city do not exceed $300, the balance will be refunded to event organizers. Conversely, if costs to the city exceed $300, organizers will be billed the difference.
● The permit application must be submitted 45 days in advance of the event instead of 10 days under the existing law. However, the police chief may shorten the application period.
● Event organizers will be responsible for providing adequate off-duty safety personnel for the event.
● If previous events run by the organizers included violations of the law, the police chief may deny the permit application.
The reason for the proposed ordinance, the police chief said, is the amount of city money required to oversee events such as road races. Even one or two additional races each year could prove costly to the city, Nealon said.
“I don’t have any reason to believe we’re going to get a lot of these (requests),” Nealon told West Life, “but the number is increasing.”
The city supervises road races with auxiliary police officers, many of whom volunteer their services, Nealon said. However, a full-time officer and motorcycle officer are also assigned to the races, he added.
Events sponsored by the city will not require permits, the proposal states. Those sponsored by the Fairview Park City Schools will not be required to pay the $300 application fee under the proposed law.
Nealon said the three major parades that take place in the city each year will not be adversely affected by the proposal. Fees for the Memorial Day parade, sponsored by American Legion Post 738, will be waived because of the connection to the nation’s military. While SummerFest is officially run by the Fairview Park Municipal Foundation, the event’s close association with the city means that no permit will be required for the SummerFest parade. The proposed ordinance states that events sponsored by the city will not require permits. And events sponsored by the Fairview Park City Schools will not be required to pay the $300 application fee under the proposed law. That means that the Homecoming parade will not require submission of the $300 application fee.
Nealon said he based his rewrite of the parade and race laws on Lakewood’s law. The police chief noted that Westlake also passed a law requiring race organizers to post a deposit and show proof of insurance a couple of years ago. That city saw a doubling of the number of charity races in recent years.
Although the insurance requirement is not specified in the proposed ordinance, Nealon said the city has always required proof of insurance with the permit application and will continue to do so.
Ward 4 Councilman John Hinkel, who is sponsoring the ordinance before council, stressed that the city is not out to hurt charities but merely recoup its expenses.
“The city only wants to break even,” Hinkel said, stressing that the portion of the $300 fee not spent by the city will be refunded.
Hinkel said no one has come forward to oppose the ordinance and he thinks it will easily pass.