Community Board: If looking at rally fees, hike for all

Bikers ride through downtown Hollister on Saturday for the Hollister Freedom Rally.

If the City of Hollister and rally promoters want to recoup more costs through fees charged to businesses, then officials should look into a broad examination of all permit charges to merchants over the rally weekend and increase those levies across the board.
Hollister officials are once again faced with a financial-related dilemma that could make or break the immediate and long-term future of the rally. The city just lost a second promoter in two years because the Las Vegas-based ConvExx operator remained at a standoff with Hollister and the downtown association over a $90,000 deficit still owed from the 2015 rally.
That promoter pointed to private businesses in the downtown district getting around the vendor fees he charged for use of public streets and, he contended, costing him revenue needed to make the event’s finances work.
It brings up a real problem moving forward. On one hand, it’s challenging on a number of levels to target a small group of property owners who are leasing out space for merchandise sales. On the other, the city has to figure out a way to balance the books, or the event will go away altogether and nobody will make money then.
With that in mind, one way to recoup more of those costs is to look at a broader fee system affecting all of the businesses or property owners taking part in the special weekend festivities drawing tens of thousands of people to the downtown area.
Such fees shouldn’t be shell shocking by any means to individual business owners, though, at least not the kind of dollars the former promoter claimed he had to make up. They should also be charged to a broad swath of businesses changing their uses for the rally, and that means everyone in the area would take a financial hit, if that’s the route leaders choose.
No matter where the city finds its place in regulating the fiscal side of the rally, there will always be intrinsic challenges on the budget end of things such as geographic borders and private property rights.
Overall, the city has to get a lot more creative on the rally’s direction than addressing private lots if officials hope to make it a go for the long haul.

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