In wake of Ben Harper concert, Avon considering another $500K in special events funding recommendations | VailDaily.com

In wake of Ben Harper concert, Avon considering another $500K in special events funding recommendations

The Cover Rock Festival debuted in 2016 and returned to the Avon Performance Pavilion for a second year in 2017, with help from special event funding approved by the Avon Town Council. The town's new Ad Hoc Special Events Committee reviewed more than $1 million in funding requests this year.

AVON — Elected officials this month will consider appropriating $500,000 in funding recommendations from the town's Ad Hoc Special Events Committee.

Every fall, the Avon Town Council receives in-person requests from local organizations for event funding and decides who will receive how much money. This year, the Special Events Committee was formed with the charge of taking on that process, turning even more attention than usual to the recommendations, which can make or break an event in town.

In years past, hearing out the funding requests has been a time-consuming endeavor for the council. Attending the ad hoc committee's meeting on Friday, Sept. 29, as a member of the audience, councilman Jake Wolf said he was impressed by how streamlined the committee had made the operation. Wolf was among the first to recommend Avon for a special events committee.

"They went through 42 requests in like three hours," Wolf said. "I was glad that we formed a committee before seeing that, and after seeing how much time it saved the council and how dedicated they were to the process they had created, I'm sold. We need this committee."

$1M IN REQUESTS

Committee chairman Bobby Bank said this year's requests totaled more than $1 million. Vail's special events committee allocated about $975,000 in 2016. Bank is a former member of Vail's special events committee and said the process of determining how to condense $1 million in requests into $500,000 in recommended allocations is now similar in Avon to what's done in Vail, with a few exceptions.

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"The idea was not to reinvent the wheel," Bank said. "We took the basic framework from other towns and adapted it to Avon's goals, which are outlined in their strategic plan."

The standard goals you would expect to see are all there, with the committee evaluating things such as an event's potential to increase sales tax revenue or how well it fits the town's brand.

One town goal expressed by Avon that you may not see in other areas, however, is to make an attempt at better appropriating event money to each according to their need. On the 100-point scale, 10 points can be earned by an organization that really needs the money. How well an event scores on the 100-point scale will help the committee determine how much of the money requested the organization will be recommended to receive.

By using a scoring system, the committee hopes to create more accountability when it comes to who receives what, Bank said.

"We want to create a framework so our decisions are logical, and anyone from the outside can take a look at what we're doing and understand why," Bank said.

Tuesday, OCT. 10, MEETING

Avon's Ad Hoc Special Events Committee is currently preparing the full funding recommendation for the Town Council, and the details of who is recommended to receive what will be in the council's regular meeting packet, released on Friday, Oct. 6.

The council is then expected to uphold or deny that funding recommendation at its Oct. 10 meeting.

The fact that this is the Ad Hoc Special Events Committee's first attempt at fall funding recommendations isn't the only thing drawing attention to the process. The timing of the meeting, occurring exactly two weeks after the conclusion of a relatively costly event in the Ben Harper concert on Friday, Sept. 15, also added a level of curiosity to the committee's Tuesday, Sept. 26, meeting. Wolf said he was not expecting to hear the full cost of the Ben Harper show until that meeting.

"I still haven't actually heard it, if you include the staff time," Wolf said.

At the council's Sept. 26 meeting, town manager Virgina Egger said the council will receive in the Oct. 10 meeting packet the full report on the value of the town labor that was used to put on the Ben Harper concert. Using a flextime approach, employees who worked the event were not working overtime at the time of the town-produced show, Egger said.

"That's a real cost to the town, but it's not an additional cost to our budget," said council member Megan Burch.

Not including staff time, expenses for the Ben Harper concert were $158,145, according to figures released by the town on Sept. 22. The total revenue was $89,797, for a loss of $68,348.

SCORING ON GOAL

In investing money toward events, the town of Avon has set forth several goals, including the event’s ability to support the stated priorities in the town’s strategic plan, uphold Avon’s brand character, create a signature event and reach profitability within three years, among others. For more information and definitions, or to see a funding application or scoresheet, visit avon.org/documentcenter/view/16596.

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