News Feature

Stonington
Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, June 7, 2018
Events on Fish Pier subject to cost sharing
New forms at town office

by Faith DeAmbrose

The cost of everything is up, and for a municipality that relies on tax and fee collection, where does the money come from when an outside group wishes to hold an event on town-owned land? Costs such as increased trash removal, water usage and sewer costs, extra security and the time of the harbormaster all add up and when issues arise as a result of an outside event, it has been unclear who pays, said Town Manager Kathleen Billings.

Up until now, those costs have been absorbed by either the taxpayers, or from the Harbor Committee or Fish Pier accounts which are largely derived from fees.

Last year’s Lobster Boat Races required calls to the town’s ambulance corps and fire department after a number of boaters were brought in nearly unconscious, prompting response from the harbormaster and various town officials. An accident on the pier two years ago during July 4 actives was another incident that was unintentional yet costly.

To mitigate out-of-pocket expenses to the town, the board of selectmen, at the behest of the Harbor Committee, recently implemented a strategy that allows an organization to hold an event, but to share in any additional costs that would result from the use. “This will mean different things depending on the event,” said Billings on June 5. “For instance, for the Boat Races, they have been asked to cover the cost of a second sheriff’s deputy.”

For all groups and organizations wishing to hold events on the fish pier, approval is now required, and a form is available at the town office. As part of the approval process, additional costs will be identified and agreed on before an event takes place.

“At the end of the day, the costs were mounting up in dollars, and taking away from the needs at the pier,” said Billings.