Chamber could receive event funding from city

For the first time, the Newport Beach City Council is slated to give the Chamber of Commerce money for its annual community events.

The chamber will receive $30,000 in cash support and about $7,000 in waived fees, if the City Council votes Tuesday to approve the chamber's requests.

About 20 organizations applied to the city for an annual allotment of special event funds and a committee recommended how much to give each group. The big winners were the Newport Beach Film Festival and the chamber, which together may receive 60% of the funding. Some other organizations are recommended to receive little or no funds.

"We appreciate their acknowledgement that they add great value," said Richard Luehrs, president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce, which produces the Taste of Newport and the Christmas Boat Parade.

Until this fall, the chamber was restricted from receiving funds from the city. But voters approved Measure V, which included a provision that repealed a 55-year-old law that severely restricted their funding.

In past years, chamber events received in-kind support from the city. In 2009, the city waived more than $55,000 in costs incurred by police officers controlling crowds and traffic, Fire Department inspections and various permit fees, according to city records.

For the fiscal year 2011-12, the Special Events Advisory Committee recommended that the Christmas Boat Parade receive $30,000 in cash support, and that the Taste of Newport receive $7,200 in waived police fees.

The Newport Beach Film Festival is slated to receive $75,000 — less than past annual city contributions of $100,000.

Because of tight city finances, in many cases the city is set to fund less than 50% of what community groups requested, according to a city staff report.

Requests were evaluated on if they promote the city as an "exciting place to live, play, learn, work and visit," and if they bring in visitors, among other criteria.

One group that may be denied funding is the OC Marathon. It requested $50,000, but scored low on the committee's evaluation.

Race Director Gary Kutscher said he was disappointed, and planned to appeal to the City Council .

"We are certainly bringing the community dollars that many others do not," Kutscher said.

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