AUSTIN (KXAN) - Austin Fire Department is proposing creating new permits and fees for special events. It would be a first for the fast-growing city where the festival culture continues to blossom.
A year-old team of ‘special events' fire inspectors is now putting in hundreds of hours, according to the city's fire prevention chief. Chief Brian Tanzola plans to ask council members to make three of those full-time positions permanent to handle the growing load. It translates to a $437,235 city budget request.
The proposed permits and fees would offset some of the inspection costs by $58,000, Tanzola said. They would break down into four areas:
- a trade show and exhibits permit: $75.
- a carnival fair and festival operation permit: $100 (for events larger than 75 people)
- a tent and temporary membrane structure fee: $50 (for walled tents larger than 400 sq. feet or any tent larger than 700 sq. feet)
- a temporary helistop fee: $75 (after last November's F1 Grand Prix event)
The man who puts together the Pachanga Latino Music Festival says the growing city is within its rights to charge a little something.
"I think everything they do is very reasonable, and very fair," Rich Garza said.
"If you look around (our festival grounds), people are working, and I think the city sort of recognizes the (economic) value in that."
In 2012 AFD received site plans for:
- 250 organized street events including running races and block parties
- 252 trade shows and exhibits
- 300 venue inspections for South By Southwest
- 105 separate venue and tent inspections for Fun, Fun, Fun Fest (part of F1 Grand Prix weekend)
- 335 public assemblies where 51% or more of the sales were from alcohol
- 51 annual inspections for college sororities and fraternities
Chief Tanzola said his staff had to prioritize which events they actually visited, noting a lightly-attended neighborhood charity 5K race for example, might not rise to the level of actually having a physical site inspection.
The Austin City Council still has to approve the new fee schedule. It does not include a separate request for four more building safety inspectors. The city's fire prevention group has a self-imposed goal of inspecting apartment complexes and commercial buildings once a year.
Financial forecast documents prepared by Austin Fire Department show this fiscal year, projected total revenue from existing fees for fire inspections, plan review and special events is expected to bring in $1.8 million. The forecast for the 2014 fiscal year is up 5.6 percent to $1.9 million.
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