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Colorfest fees increase

Sarah Harrington

(2/26) After months of discussion and two workshops, the Thurmont town council voted to increase Colorfest permit fees as well as make cuts in town services supporting the event. The decisions were made in an effort to stem losses to the town form the annual fall event.

The town spent $61,589 to support the 2015 Colorfest, but the event only returned $49,153 to the town coffers, in the form of permits and parking fees. This left a deficit of over $12,000 that then had to be picked up by the residents of Thurmont. It was the fourth year that the town has lost money from Colorfest.

About 20 residents and Colorfest participants attended the first workshop hosted by the town back in January. The purpose of the workshop was to generate ideas and suggestions on ways that the town could increase revenue and decrease costs.

During the workshop, Mayor Kinnaird proposed that the town consider increase the price of parking, from $10 to $15. The town would receive $4 of the $15, with the other $11 going to the non-profit groups who manage the parking lots. Kinnaird also noted that the increase of $5 to the already $10 parking fee would not deter event goers. Colorfest representatives opposed the vote to increase the parking fees, arguing that event goers were already unhappy with the $10 parking fee and worried that the $5 increase would cause people to turn away from the event.

The town council also voted to raise permit fees. Craft permit fees were raised from $35 to $50. Information only vendor fees were raised from $0 to $50, and non-profit food vendor fees were raised from $27 to $30. The council, however, chose to keep the parking and yard sale permit fees as proposed, $35 and $15, for 2016.

Thurmont Commissioners Bill Buehrer and Wes Hamrick recommended that the town first investigate ways to cut expenses before making a decision on any fee increases.

After a cost analysis was completed by town staff, the town council also voted to reduce services provided by the town that will save the town $10,000. The number of portable toilets at the event will be reduced from 175 to 138, which will result in a savings of $2,725. The number of buses used as transportation during the event will also be reduced from 26 to 16, translating into a $6,660 cost savings. The council also decided to eliminate. The council also decided to eliminate one of the three variable message signs used on US 15 to advertise the festival and direct visitors to parking areas, which will result in an additional $1,000 cost saving.

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