New Reservoir fee a concern for Pepsi Pops and Dragon Boat sponsors

MADISON COUNTY, MS (Mississippi News Now) - Sponsors of Pepsi Pops and the popular Dragon Boat Regatta say these events could be in jeopardy.

They turned out in force Monday to protest a new "event policy fee" passed by Reservoir board members at their January board meeting.

These two large public events in particular at the Old Trace Park in Ridgeland will be impacted.

The Dragon Boat Regatta is expected to attract 5,000 people and the Jackson Symphony Pepsi Pops concert 3,000.

Both have been booked for months, yet sponsors were never notified of the increased fee which could cost them $40,000.

They argued the events can't survive if a 10 percent charge of the gross revenues is tacked on.

"We want to have the events here. We want to have public participation," Pearl River Valley Water Supply District manager John Sigman. "But at the same time we are a poor state agency and we have go to cover our costs."

"We just can't afford to give back to the schools with the Symphony and put music back in there," said Shelley Brown of Brown Bottling, a sponsor of both events.

"We're not against paying something, it's just the 10 percent is excessive and there's no limit to it," said Kasey Perry, Executive Director of the Madison Chamber of Commerce.

But Reservoir officials counter, saying they can't afford not to increase the fee.

Ironically, Ridgeland Mayor Gene McGee, who is also a new reservoir board member voted in favor of the higher event fees.

The Mayor is hoping for a compromise.

Any new fee changes will be taken up at the full Reservoir board meeting Thursday.

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