BISBEE — A Bisbee farmers market may return to Vista Park once a new fee schedule is set for a year–long event.
The previous organizers of the Bisbee Farmers Market would not agree with the $17,000 in fees City Manager Theresa Coleman presented to them in accordance with the city code. So, the organizers looked elsewhere for a location and found a willing partner at the La Ramada Steakhouse and Cantina on Naco Highway.
There are others interested in opening a new farmers market in Vista Park and Mayor Ken Budge came up with a compromising plan to be sure the city was recovering the cost of power, water and garbage service.
“The Bisbee Farmers Market has bee been with us for 20 years and for 20 years the city has been subsidizing them,” said Budge. “We want them to cover our costs. This is something for the community we need to do.”
The problem was the city fee schedule for special events really had no category for something like a farmers market which runs 52 weeks a year, continued Budge.
“The council made a big mistake to approve the recent fee schedule changes without something like this in it,” said Budge. “It handcuffs the city manager. She has to follow the schedule.”
A sample fee schedule of the cost of the Bisbee Farmers Market would be over $13,000 annually. Budge’s recommended fees would be a bit over $4,000 for the year. He dropped the trash service to $780 a year instead of $8,580 and dropped vendor fees.
The permit fee of $65, the special event license fee of $39.56, electricity fee of $520 and the water and bathroom access costs of $1,300 remain the same.
Budge recommended providing a lockable dumpster for all the trash, which could be picked up on a normal trash run. His fee schedule also cut the city staff time of opening and closing the restrooms and ensuring the trash was picked up and the dumpster locked. He estimated one person for one hour at $25 an hour.
Councilwoman Joni Giacomino agreed whoever runs the farmers market should pay the costs they incur at the park.
Council members Anna Cline and Frank Davis agreed.
Davis said, “We want to see the farmers market back at Vista Park. It’s a big thing to our community.”
Councilman Low Pawlik said the council was “going about this the wrong way.” He thought Budge was circumventing the city manager’s duties, even though he liked Budge’s plan for the fee change.
“It’s not your job,” he told Budge. “It’s the city manager’s job. She works out an agreement with them and then brings it to us.”
Councilwoman Leslie Johns disagreed completely with Pawlik and pointed out some talks between organizations trying to work with the city manager “have not gone well.” She believed giving direction to the city manager was appropriate.
Councilwoman Joan Hansen had a different view. She pointed out, “This has been going on for years. There’s always an argument on what they have to pay. And half the time the city doesn’t get what they were supposed to pay. I don’t like the fact the City Manager is being chastised for not going along with them. She’s just trying to do her job. There are people in this city that just don’t want to play by the rules and the farmers market is one of them.”
City Attorney Joseph Estes talked about the different roles of the city manager, who is responsible for the day to day operations of the city, and the council, who set fee schedules.
“The city manager’s hands are tied. She has to follow the fee schedule,” he noted.
Estes also pointed out, changing the fee schedule was not something the mayor and council could do immediately. It would take a 60–day notice to the public and then a public hearing would need to be held at a council meeting. Once the change is approved, the city manager can move forward.
Budge said he just wanted to hear everybody’s opinion on the current fee schedule and the proposed changes.
“I just wanted the fess to cover the cost without the taxpayers subsidizing the market,” said Budge.
At the end of the discussion, City Manager Theresa Coleman was asked to go over the figures and determine the actual cost to the city for the council to review during a future meeting.