BRATTLEBORO — Select Board members want to hear more from those who might be most affected by an additional fee to event permits.
Town Clerk Annette Cappy is proposing a $15 administrative fee for request-to-cater, special event, and art gallery permits, and a $50 administrative fee for festival and educational sampling permits. She said the sooner the state's Department of Liquor Control gets a look at the permit, the better it is for the town and the DLC.
"It doesn't mean they'll investigate every single one," she said.
Local businesses often miss out on the opportunity to participate in events due to the town's lengthy approval process, Cappy wrote in a memo. Sometimes, a three-week wait may be required as permits are approved at Select Board meetings when board members act as local liquor commissioners. The board usually meets twice a month.
With breweries and distilleries on the rise in Vermont, Cappy said, event permits are as well.
The DLC collects its own $20 fee for a request-to-cater permit, a $35 fee for a special events permit, a $115 fee for a festival permit, a $230 for an educational sampling permit and a $20 fee for hosting events at an art gallery, library, museum or bookstore.
Requests for these events are vetted by the Town Clerk's Office, Town Manager's Office, and the police and fire departments. And this wouldn't change under Cappy's proposal.
"We just wouldn't have to be in the middle unless the permit reached a certain critical mass," explained Select Board Chairman David Gartenstein.
Many events only have a single vendor, Cappy said, and Strolling of the Heifers might have between six or eight. But those mostly only need special event permits.
The Brattleboro Brewers Festival, coming up on May 14, is a festival permit. That would go to the board.
Christian Stromberg, owner of Saxtons River Distillery, said he was all for streamlining the process.
"I have missed out on events. I was invited too late," he said. "Based on the Select Board schedule, they got it late and rejected it late."
Board Vice Chairwoman Kate O'Connor told board members she was not sure about the change just yet.
"I realize we want to collect fees but I want to hear more," she said, with most of the board agreeing to hold off on the vote.
Board member Dick DeGray wanted to approve the proposal at the May 3 meeting, noting that the people putting on events aren't putting them on for free.
"They're making money off this. That's fine and well and good. I certainly agree the $15 isn't going to offset our budget by any shape, way or means," DeGray said. "At some point, we have to stop giving away the services."
The topic will come up again at the next meeting on May 17.
Contact Chris Mays at firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-254-2311, ext. 273.