Council cuts fees

Published 1:46 am Wednesday, October 1, 2008

By Staff
for yearly festival
Guild will pay $2,500 flat fee
Contributing Editor
The East Carolina Wildfowl Guild will pay a flat fee of $2,500 for the use of city facilities and services to put on the 2009 East Carolina Wildlife Arts Festival and North Carolina Decoy Carving Championships.
The Washington City Council made that decision Monday night. It also appropriated $1,900 to pay for expenses related to those facilities and services that the $2,500 paid by the guild will not cover. The two decisions were unanimous.
David Gossett, speaking on behalf of the guild, said an increase in city-imposed fees in recent years had been placing a financial burden on the guild. According to a document provided by Gossett, the proposed city fees for the 2009 festival were $1,440 more than the fees charged by the city for the 2008 festival.
The festival began in 1996 after a “handshake” deal with then-City Manager Ed Burchins resulted in the guild not having to pay for use of the Civic Center and adjacent Peterson Building, Gossett told the council.
In 1996, the guild paid nothing to the city, but this year it paid $2,962 in fees, he told the council.
Gossett also told the council that because of the mounting expenses associated with the festival, “you can begin to see my frustration.”
The festival has never been a money-maker for the guild, he said.
The guild has made monetary contributions to organizations and groups such as the Turnage Theaters Foundation and Boy Scout Troop 99, Gossett noted. The guild has seven part-time employees, two who work throughout the year and five who work during the festival, he said.
Citing a 2006 study of the festival’s influence on the local economy, Gossett said the city, its merchants and others benefit greatly from the festival being held in Washington. Visitors to the 2006 festival had an economic impact of $162,240 on the local economy, according to a study conducted for the Washington Tourism Development Authority.
Gossett contends that impact has grown since the study was conducted.
The study does not include the $75,000 the guild spends each year with local businesses to put on the festival. For example, Gossett said, the guild spent $1,900 this year on brochures for the 2009 festival.
City officials praised the festival.
Jennings made motion to charge the guild the $2,500 fee.
For additional coverage of the council’s meeting, see subsequent editions of the Washington Daily News.