Permits hike impact special events

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Those looking to host events in Wrightsville Beach after July 1 will now have to pay more, even if they previously paid the special event permit fee.

The text amendment was the unanimous vote of the Wrightsville Beach Board of Aldermen passed during its June 12 meeting.

“Really, we are more or less trying to break even,” town manager Tim Owens said during a phone interview. “With all the events we have, and we do classes, we are trying to bring that in line with what we call true costs.”

Those who already had permits approved were notified by email June 13 of the fee increases and were asked to make additional payments, said Katie Ryan, parks and recreation program supervisor.

“Mine is going to be a wedding, and at that time it was $100,” said Laurie Nix, of Milton, Ky. “I live in Kentucky and I do not know if it is common for them to have meetings every year where they change things.”

The fee for Nix is now $125, so she will need to pay the additional $25 before her Aug. 11 wedding.

Despite the denial of her multiple requests for exemption, Nix said she is not upset about the extra fee, she just wanted to be informed the fee increase was a possibility.

“You fill out a contract for a reason,” Nix said. “You just do not expect the extra fee.”

Nix said she is also concerned the fee may be raised again, something Owens said is not likely.

“These fees are already set, so I do not believe they will change,” Owens said. “Anything is possible, but I am pretty sure they will not be changed again.”

Previously, the town had a tier-based system, whereby the amount paid depended upon how many people would attend an event, Ryan said.

“If you look at it, basically the scale changed,” Ryan said. “Some of the smaller ones are only affected by a little bit, maybe $25 or so.”

The effect on other events, such as the University of North Carolina Wilmington’s Beach Blast hosted prior to the beginning of the school year, will be higher.

“We used to end at $500 for events when the number of participants was over 600,” Ryan said.

Now the highest fee is $1,000 for events with more than 4,000 attendees, Ryan said.

At this point, many people are willing to just pay the extra money, although most, such as Jon Kapell, UNCW’s Director of Campus Activities, will be keeping an eye on possible fee increases in the future.

“I think at this point we are using the budget set for us by the institution,” Kapell said. “It is something we will take into consideration going forward next year.”

 

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