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Mariposa Folk Festival won't be reimbursed for rental fees

By Sara Carson, Orillia Packet & Times


The Mariposa Folk Foundation won’t be reimbursed for all the Tudhope Park rental fees it has paid the city since 2000.

“Overall, staff is not recommending any fees be returned ...” Patty Ward, the city’s recreation facility supervisor said during Monday’s council committee meeting.

During 2013 budget deliberations in November, the foundation wrote to the city saying it believed the park rental fees should be reimbursed due to a city policy that states that local non-profit groups will not be assessed fees for events in parks.

City staff determined the fees were intended to be charged and should not be returned.

With no discussion, city politicians passed a motion to not reimburse the fees.

The folk foundation also asked the city to establish a cultural grant program with an initial amount of $50,000.

For its 2013 festival, the foundation is requesting $15,000 in city grant funding.

The Mariposa Folk Foundation is facing financial challenges.

The Mariposa Folk Festival — with an annual budget of roughly $750,000 — ran a deficit in 2012. Its one paid staff member is funded through an expiring Trillium grant.

In 2011, city politicians hiked its daily rental fee of Tudhope Park to $1,500 from $400.

Coun. Pete Bowen wanted to put a one-year moratorium on the 2011 fee increase until the city developed a new granting structure.

“I’m hoping as we do move forward and are looking at grants, we take into account the fact we have increased fees for these not-for-profit organizations,” he said.

Coun. Michael Fogarty questioned why the fees were increased if the city was going to hand over grants to compensate for it.

“Why on earth did we increase the fee anyways?” he asked. “If it was the intent of this council not to recover those costs, then we should not have increased the fee in the first place.”

Fogarty added the Mariposa Folk Foundation’s letter painted the city “in a very poor light.”

“I don’t like the negative light this shined upon us,” he said.

Traditionally, the city donates $2,500 annually to the Mariposa Folk Festival.

In 2011, the festival was given $11,500 from the city in cash and in-kind. In 2012, this figure was $10,500. This includes funding from the Orillia and area tourism marketing co-operative, which the city is part of.

City politicians decided to postpone the folk foundation’s grant requests until they receive a staff report on grants.

Ray Merkley, Orillia’s director of parks and recreation, said in March staff will present a report on grants given in the past and suggestions for future funding.

Bowen suggested the grant structure be tiered depending on event budgets and include multi-year sponsorship options.

“... So they can plan accordingly and don’t need to come every year hat in hand, pleading for support,” he said.

A second staff report on sponsorships and partnerships will be completed in May.

It will include benchmarks of other similar festivals, more specific details on the organization’s financial status and recognition the city should receive, to determine an appropriate sponsorship value.

Twitter: @Sara_VRoss

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