Downtown events cost city $19K

Photo by Kavontae Smalls

Photo by Kavontae Smalls

The city has spent about $19,000 in the past year to close streets and set up detours for special events downtown, according to a report from Transportation Project Manager Billy Skinner. The report was provided to the council at the request of Councilman Chris Smith.

Costs incurred were for the street, police and fire departments and did not include time spent by department heads meeting with organizers to hash out details of events or work on permits. Meetings can last one to three hours and permitting can take between one and eight hours, according to Skinner.

The following is a breakdown of costs:

* Fuzz Run, Sept. 11, 2010 - $2,728.72

* Car Show, October 2010 - $176.85

* Christmas Parade, Dec. 4 - $1,975.32

* Cheerios Challenge, April 16 - $1,065.69

* Steeples Fun Run, May 7 - $884.88

* Firehouse 5K, May 21 - $1,626.05

* July Fourth Celebration, July 3 - $5,784.49

* Georgia Gran Prix bike race, July 23 - $3,646.84

* Back 2 School Block Party, July 24 - $1,058.04

Smith asked if the cost to the city for the Georgia Gran Prix bicycle race could be reimbursed through the tourism department of the Chamber of Commerce or by Main Street Covington given that the event was promoted as a tourism event and those organizations receive hotel/motel tax revenues for tourism purposes. City Manager Steve Horton said he would ask.

Some downtown merchants were upset regarding street closings for the bicycle race, and complained they did not receive enough notice. The city provided one week's notice, but in the future, for complete street closings, at least two weeks notice will be provided when possible, for events occurring during normal business hours, Horton said.

He said city staff will visit each establishment that will be impacted to get their input and invite them to attend the City Council meeting where the proposed closures will be discussed. Initially, Horton had proposed a committee to handle street closings, but, "I think this approach is better than a committee as it provides relevant information to each impacted business so that they have some notice of the proposed road closures and they can attend and speak for themselves versus having members of a small group speak for everyone. The small group/committee approach could possibly result in some businesses feeling like their issues were not fully discussed."