By Tom Hubka
WesCom Wire Service
BROOKINGS Port of Brookings Harbor officials and organizers of three of port's largest festivals on Tuesday reached an agreement regarding fees for the upcoming year.
The agreement mandates fees of money only, no "in lieu of" or "in kind" transactions that had been accepted in the past.
"If we take in lieu, there is nothing to prohibit a slip owner, tenant or to give in lieu of their rent," Commissioner Loren Griffith said. "It's a liability issue."
An initial proposal presented to the port by the festivals last week had called for only in-kind donations instead of fees.
The final agreement also outlines a gradually increasing fee structure for all events at the port for the next five years. The events are broken down into major events (for profit and non-profit), minor events and "for public benefit" events, which are charged no fee.
The agreement was signed Monday by officials of the Festival of the Arts, the Slam'n Salmon Ocean Derby and the Southern Oregon Kite Festival.
At its meeting Tuesday, the port commission also signed the agreement, except Commissioner Ted Freeman, who declared ex parte based on his past involvement with the kite festival.
The agreement caps several weeks of tension between festivals and the port. The three festivals were put "on hold" after festival officials said they were treated rudely by some port commissioners in the course of negotiating a fee.
Last week, the three festivals delivered a proposal to the port. After being revised and exchanged, both sides ultimately agreed on a final version.
In the interim, dozens of people contacted the Curry Coastal Pilot, including port and festival officials, weighing in on what the festivals provided and what the port should charge.
The three festivals banded together and began holding meetings in order to ensure the port dealt with them at one time, rather than the previous individual meetings.
The two sides reaching an understanding has resulted in all three festivals being tentatively back on track, according to their respective officials.
"It's good to know what the situation is," Festival of the Arts Committee Member Jan Norman said. "We're all excited, and it's time to get started."
Kite Festival Official Roger Thompson said, "We are planning on moving ahead with the festival as long as the agreement is signed."
Thompson said he was not totally satisfied with the agreement, but thought it was time to put the issue in the past.
Derby Co-founder Jim Relaford said, "We're happy with the agreement. We're definitely moving forward. I'm just sorry it took this long."
The derby had originally offered to build a stage for the port, and will now pay the $300 fee instead, Relaford said.
"This doesn't prohibit the derby from contributing something if we want to," he said. "I do understand the port's need to organize the fee process and standardize it."
During the meeting, Thompson asked whether the organizers of the Fourth of July fireworks event would be charged. Griffith said they fall under the "for public benefit" category and would not be charged. When Thompson asked the difference between the kite festival and the firework event concerning non-profit, Griffith said he wasn't sure.
Commissioner Kathy Lindley said the fireworks event was celebrating a national holiday, unlike the kite festival.
Commissioner Lloyd Whaley offered his thanks Tuesday to the commissioners that had represented the port through the proceedings.
"I want to thank Sue (Gold) and Loren," he said. "They put in a lot of work into this."