City Revenues from Corn Fest 2011

We need for DeKalb to collect, at minimum, about $30,000 in Corn Fest annual revenues on behalf of DeKalb Taylor Municipal Airport (DTMA) because that’s what city administrators told the FAA it would do.

They also said they’d put these revenues, consisting of sales taxes and parking fees, directly into the airport fund instead of dumping them into the General Fund and making transfers. They have not yet made this change, so I requested the numbers through the Freedom of Information Act.

Make the jump to see how well we’ve done.

First up are restaurant/bar tax revenues from 2008 to date.

There are other sales taxes, of course, but this is all I got when I asked for sales taxes. I’m not pursuing it further (in the past there’s been a claim of protecting vendor privacy) so make of it what you will.

Next up are the parking fees. Last year was the first year for the fee, which was set at $5 per vehicle.

Click on the photo for a larger image, and a second time to reach maximum size.

The report calls it “miscellaneous income,” which must refer to General Fund miscellaneous income because the amount of miscellaneous income listed in the airport budget is only $5,000. However, the latest planned transfer from the General Fund to the Airport Fund is $328,750. In view of the new information as well as past transfers I think it’s fairly safe to assume that $28,750 of the total amount reflects Corn Fest revenues being returned to the airport.

Looks pretty good, right? EXCEPT for the following (my emphases added):

Staff believes that the total revenue that could potentially be collected is $54,206. That total assumes a 3,500 car capacity and that total weekend traffic is approximately 18,375 cars attend the festival. A 20% share with the Big Brothers / Big Sisters organization would result in revenue to the City of $43,365. Because this is the first time that there has been a fee for parking, staff has had to develop the forecast without the benefit of previous experience in the event.

In recent discussions with the Federal Aviation Administration, they maintain that these revenues should be accounted to the airport in order for this event to meet the qualifications as an aeronautical event. Without this revenue to the airport, the FAA may prohibit future events at the airport.

City expenditures for collecting the parking fees will include the cost of overtime for finance staff at the event. Public works employees, as non-bargaining, will only cost a straight time rate as compensatory time.

The City will also incur the costs for assorted items such as additional signage for the event, money collect smocks, tent/shade making devices for the volunteers. These costs would largely be one-time costs as they could be used in upcoming years. It is not expected that the soft costs will be more than $2,000.

In conclusion:

  • The parking arrangement does help satisfy FAA expectations for airport revenues from Corn Fest — barely.

  • Parking revenues came in at only half the amount projected.

  • The new fee may not have covered the city’s costs to collect it, much less other costs of putting on Corn Fest 2011 (e.g., additional police, post-Fest cleanup, etc.)

  • 7 thoughts on “City Revenues from Corn Fest 2011”

    1. Lynn, what about the revenue which is supposed to be collected for from the vendors?

      Under city code, Thursday’s Farmers Market vendors are given blanket exemption — the organizer is supposed to keep tabs on them and no money comes into the city coffers. If a health or safety issue came up, we’d have to rely on the organizer’s records to track down a vendor.

      Well, no such exemption is stated for Corn Fest in city code (Chapter 33) — but my understanding is the annual operating agreement gives them wide carte blanche.

      It’s good to see the city is so flush with revenue that it can give a waiver to all the merchants from Timbuktu participating at Corn Fest!

      This is in essence a “license sharing” scam which is otherwise illegal.

      That’s $50 for each food vendor and $25 for other itinerant merchants, but most importantly, it’s a matter of public safety.

      It’s amazing what a few well-distributed “VIP passes” will get you around here!

    2. Lynn, your numbers are fascinating. With almost $44,000 in parking revenue, that represents 8800 cars. This doesn’t include all those who were given free parking, arrived by bus, foot, bicycle, etc.

      Let’s assume a low, low average of two persons per car, and for every pair that arrived by car, one more person arrived by alternate transportation. That represents around 25,000 persons attending Corn Fest for part of the weekend. (I haven’t seen official numbers).

      Now let’s look at the 2% “restaurant and bar tax” revenues collected in 2011 of just under $1000. This would represent $50,000 in sales. In other words, if everyone is reporting on the up and up, the average person attending Corn Fest spent a whopping $2 during the entire 3-day weekend.

      When I visited the festival briefly, I don’t recall there was much a person could get for $2 but hey, I’m sure the folks at the finance department are on top of all this.

    3. Booth revenues (except for the craft fair) all go to Corn Fest. Very, very roughly (and keeping in mind these numbers have not been reported in the 990 forms for a few years) the top revenues are as follows:

      Booth revenues: $60,000
      Carnival: $30,000
      Beer Garden: $30,000

      The races bring in about $25,000 but the expenses usually match the revenue number. The VIP tent is likewise a break-even venture.

      You can certainly see why Corn Fest has been eager to maximize the number of vendors, even to the detriment of downtown businesses before it moved.

    4. I used to ply my wares at farmers’ markets, craft shows, flea markets and festivals. Speaking as somebody who always paid the Department of Revenue what it was due but aware that a lot of people don’t, I would love to see DoR personnel visit a few booths themselves sometime.

    5. I had more the arts and crafts folks in mind when making the comment, because they are not subject to licensing and inspections. But, it’s also not the beer garden, or I think the total take would be higher? So I guess the honest folk are the chicken-on-a-stick and spiral fries people.

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