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Kimball Art Center's request to include inflation increases gets some push back


The Park City Council Thursday recommitted its support for the long-standing annual Kimball Arts Festival to continue, but some members questioned the Art Center’s request for including a $40,000 inflation buffer in the new contract.

The special events staff will come back to the council with a final contract for the master festival license.

The council agreed in concept to move forward with a 5-year contract to hold the Kimball Arts Festival for three days on the first weekend in August on Park City’s Main Street through 2027.

Kimball Art Center Arts Festival Director Hilary Gilson said they’re hoping to bump up the maximum amount the city would contribute to put on the festival from $140,000 to $180,000, to create a buffer over the next five years in the event something should happen.

“I just really want to be clear that we're mimicking the contract that we had previously,” Gilson said. “And we're keeping it at that higher number in case of dramatic jumps. Let's say police and fire department salaries, which I support them being raised. But I also know that that would have a dramatic impact on our bottom line. Let's say if we have $140,000 contract and it goes, you know, our city service fees are at $180,000. That's $40,000 that are being taken away from our year-round programming.”

The current contract caps the maximum amount the city will provide in service costs to $140,000. By including a 10% inflation buffer, that maximum could jump up to $180,000 over the five year contract.

But councilor Jeremy Rubell pushed back, saying it’s a hard pass for him to allow for 10% inflation.

“The $180,000 though, I'd like to understand first off, the delta, like what is the really the net impact that we can come up with, which I know is challenging, but really the question is, what would our economic activity be without the art festival on a same or similar weekend, Rubell asked. “ And then I feel like I could probably be more informed as to how much I'd be willing to spend on it.”

Rubell also suggested that instead of Park City being responsible for paying up to $180,000 to put on the festival, the council might want to consider just sponsoring the Friday locals’ night – the one night Summit County residents get in for free - at a cost he estimated would be just $45,000.

“So, I’m not saying that's the magic number, but I'd like to kind of get to that level of analysis to say, what does the right number feel like, and I appreciate all the other activities that the Kimball Art Center puts on. But I also want to keep those conversations separate. So, if it came back, if you don't give us $180,000, we're not going to go to the schools and have kids’ programs. I would say, well, how much does it cost to go to the schools and have kids’ programs and should we treat that under special service contracts perhaps instead of under an arts festival?”

Council Max Doilney said he understands Rubell’s concerns but if the council starts carving out every benefit for every special event fee request, it becomes a slippery slope.

“I understand wanting to tighten the belt a little bit. But if that becomes the standard for all events, then we're going to be doing probably having council meetings all the time about the minutiae, and it's not our job to micromanage these things. I think that you gotta trust that they're a good partner. They're providing services and they come to us every year and say, yep, we continue to do these things. And this is why we give them a bit of a glide path.”

As a Main Street business owner, councilor Tana Toly said she’d like to see what can be done to keep people on Main St. after the festival closes on Saturday night.

“I would love to see what we could do in the future with somehow getting a little more vibrancy on Saturday nights. It becomes a little bit of a dead zone for the businesses you know, it's not the end of the world, or the end of this, but I just would like to see something help to keep the flow and the excitement on Saturday evenings.”