Alan Cox (second from left) and Elfie Wagner (right front) helped carry the rainbow flag at a previous Moab Pride event. The Moab City Council voted 3-2 this week to approve the group's request to waive up to ,415 in city fees for this year's festival and march. [Photo courtesy of Moab Pride]

Moab Pride Festival organizers can put their checkbook away for the time being, but their counterparts with the April Action Car Show should keep theirs handy, just in case.

The Moab City Council voted 3-2 on Tuesday, July 10, to waive up to $1,415 in fees for this year’s Pride festival and march, which will be held on Sept. 29 at Swanny City Park, and on nearby city streets. At the same time, though, it held off on any consideration of the Moab Rotary Club’s request to waive up to $4,735 in fees for the 2019 car show.

Initially, the council’s vote on Moab Pride’s request was at a standstill: Council members Rani Dersary and Mike Duncan supported a motion in favor of the fee waiver, while Kalen Jones and Tawny Knuteson-Boyd opposed it. However, because council member Karen Guzman-Newton was absent from the meeting, Mayor Emily Niehaus stepped in to cast a rare tie-breaking vote in favor of the request.

At one point during the meeting, Derasary withdrew her motion to approve the waiver, but Moab City Manager David Everitt ultimately suggested that council members should grant it.

“Let’s call it good,” he said. “This is really probably the only event that we know of that’s going to be coming back in, in this way.”

Everitt also advised the council not to approve the Rotary Club’s request this week, on the grounds that car show organizers might be subject to a future process to evaluate fee-waiver applications for special events.

“But with Pride, because Pride’s in a couple of months coming up, it certainly seems to me a logical approach to say, ‘Well, old rules should apply to (it), because Pride’s in 2018; the new rules should apply to the 2019 car show application,’” he said.

Everitt said he would hope that the city’s new fee-waiver policy for special events will be in place fairly soon.

“But until it’s in place, it’s not in place, so I struggle to really commit to that,” he said.

Duncan said he’s “perplexed” because he thought city officials would create a budget item that would fund not only grants, but “typical and reasonable” fee-waiver requests, as well.

“I’m very sympathetic to these guys … but it’s kind of weird appropriating money out of a budget that doesn’t exist yet,” he said.

The council’s latest discussion of fee waivers for special events at Swanny City Park comes in the wake of complaints from some residents who live in the neighborhood.

In addition to well-established events like the April Action Car Show and the Moab Arts Festival, the park’s visitor-season calendar is now full of numerous races, concerts and events that require special-use permits from the city. With more and more people flocking to organized events at the park each year, concerns about noise, congestion and other impacts on the surrounding neighborhood have been on the rise.

In an unsigned March 20 letter to the council, Pride organizers said they recognize the concerns that some neighborhood residents have raised about special events. But they said they believe the festival is one of the “least invasive” events at the park because it has fewer attendees — and because most activities take place in the middle of the park, toward 100 West.

Regardless of the impacts that special events may have on the city’s traffic woes, Jones noted that fee waiver-seeking organizations have “many ways” to pursue their development strategies and other goals.

“So while I”m willing to approve parades (on) busy weekends that impede traffic flows, I’m very reluctant to approve fee waivers,” Jones said. “I would rather support organizations through grants to their general operations, rather than specifically providing subsidies (for) events which are counter to some of our goals, so I’m going to have a hard time supporting that, even though I support the organization.”

Derasary questioned whether Jones would be interested in proposing a grant from a forthcoming city fund to benefit Moab Pride. But Jones said it’s his understanding that organizations themselves will drive the grant process by filing the applications, as opposed to council members who aren’t affiliated with outside groups.

“So, no,” he said.

Knuteson-Boyd said she agrees with Jones’ position on the issue of fee waivers.

“I have not been very happy with us as council this whole year (on the issue),” she said. “It started the first of the year, (with) how we did fee waivers.”

Niehaus said she agrees with Jones that organizations need to pay for the use of the services they’re receiving.

With that in mind, the mayor suggested an alternative that was ultimately left out of Derasary’s motion: Among other things, it would have reduced the cost of a police escort during the Pride march, from $780, to $195.

“I would be willing to say, what if we looked at being consistent and waIving that application fee or the fee for the use of the park, and charging them for their deposit, and an hour’s worth of time for police as a compromise for their event?” she added.


Council members had been scheduled to consider routine requests for permits to allow organizers of both events to use Swanny City Park. But Everitt informed them that they no longer have to make such decisions, based on a recent review of the city’s existing code.

“As we worked through how the code tells us what we need to be doing with regard to special events and the processing of them, it became apparent that we needed to do things a little differently,” he said. “And that means that when it comes to special events that don’t require council approval because they are to be approved administratively … that we shouldn’t agenda them for council approval, in that case.

“We’ve been doing that, I think, because that’s historically been what has happened when something was controversial, or when a fee waiver request came through, instead of just saying, ‘Hey, council, tell us what you want us to do on the fee waiver request,” he added. “We’ve agendad [sic] the whole thing to say, ‘approval and the fee waiver request,’ (but) really, honestly, at that point, the code says it’s not your job to tell us whether or not to approve the event; it’s your job to tell us only whether or not you want to do a fee waiver.”

Mayor casts tie-breaking vote for Pride request

“(It) certainly seems to me a logical approach to say, ‘Well, old rules should apply to (it), because Pride’s in 2018; the new rules should apply to the 2019 car show application.’”