Thursday, October 26, 2023

Town Focuses Sponsorship Process, Ensuring Clarity and Community Benefit

Town seeks one process for all events
The Town of Oro Valley is formalizing the procedure it uses for events that it sponsors. The existing process lacks structure, resulting in unclear agreements and varying levels of support for events.

The Community and Economic Development Department is leading this initiative. Director Paul Melcher presented a draft process to the Town Council during a study session last week. Following revisions, Melcher will present a final recommendation for council approval.

New process would centralize authority and document commitment
This new process addresses two key aspects of sponsorship. First: It designates a point person to review and sign sponsorship agreements. The Town Manager should have this role, according to Melcher. Second: It introduces standardized agreements through a template that delineates the responsibilities of both the Town and event sponsors. This written agreement approach aims to prevent "scope creep," where the Town becomes responsible for tasks not agreed upon.

Council: "Consider a three year limit" to town sponsorship of an event
There is another interpretation of "scope creep." Mayor Winfield and Vice Mayor Barrett view it as the number of years the Town commits to supporting an event and recommend a maximum commitment of three years of town support. They believe that an event that is not financially self-sustaining after three years should no longer receive town support.

...and a limit to spending
A majority of council members support the idea that the Town should not invest more than $2,500 per year in any event. The town’s current budget allocates $90,000 for supporting tourism activities, with $40,000 allocated to community events and tourism sponsorships. (Note: The town is paying $410,000 to Visit Tucson to bring visitors to the area.)

Notably, there was no study session discussion regarding how the Town selects the events it sponsors. Councilmember Nicolson, however, emphasized the need for a significant return on investment, specifically 40 times in the form of increased sales tax revenues (based on the fact that the the Oro Valley part of the total 8.6% sales tax is 2.5% sales tax).

Process to cover both Tourism and Community Events
The new process will cover two types of sponsorship events: Tourism Events and Community Events. A tourism event is designed to attract people who live outside of Oro Valley. An example is the "Tucson Bicycle Classic.” It is sponsored by the town in partnership with the Greater Oro Valley Chamber of Commerce. The Town is committed to supporting this event once again next year.

On the other hand, a community event focuses on enhancing the quality of life in Oro Valley. Last week’s ”Rockin' 4 Heroes” [panel above-left] event held at Kreigh Park is an example, with the Town investing $2,500 in this event under a one-year agreement. The event's organizers are currently evaluating the event's success, which, in their opinion, was exceptional given the high turnout. According to Melcher, they are considering expanding the event into a multi-day event in the future, possibly turning it into a tourism event. 

A significant step
Melcher's effort represents a significant step forward in ensuring that town-sponsored agreements are consistent across all events. A standardized process will assist the town in making more informed decisions about the events it supports, ensuring that each investment benefits the community and aligns with the town’s economic and cultural goals.
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