Nevada City Council to talk Amgen tour expenses |

Nevada City Council to talk Amgen tour expenses

The Nevada City Council will meet Wednesday to discuss more than $15,000 in Amgen tour expenses that have been shouldered by council member Duane Strawser.
John Hart |

The Nevada City Council will meet at 6:30 p.m. today to discuss a more than $15,000 debt acquired by council member Duane Strawser in his efforts to bring the 2015 Amgen Tour of California cycling race to Nevada City.

The topic was added to Wednesday’s agenda by council member Evans Phelps, who feels the entire debt should not be placed on Strawser because the event is a benefit to the entire city and surrounding area.

“Every other city that helps put on part of the Amgen tour, the government, the county or the city, they help out a little bit,” Phelps said. “The tour is definitely a very good way of getting our name out there, and when I heard about this, I thought, ‘Can the city do something? Is there any way we can help him?’”

For the past 10 years, the week-long race has been held in May, and runs through eight stages from Northern California to the Los Angeles-Pasadena area.

The race brings thousands of tourists and onlookers to each hosting city, along with exposure from broadcast programs viewed by more than 200 different countries.

Amgen’s website also runs a tour tracker that live-streams the race throughout the day; each city is also given its own profile section viewed by millions of people from around the world.

Strawser, who is also owner of Tour of Nevada City Bicycle Shop, helped raise the $50,000 necessary to bring the race to the area this year, and in the previous 2010 and 2011 tours.

Strawser initially raised the necessary funds for the 2015 tour through local businesses and sponsorships, but had to drop certain product categories, such as beer, due to Amgen’s last minute contracts with other national brands. This left a deficit of $15,300 that Strawser and his family have shouldered on their own.

Strawser says on May 11, during the second stage of the race held in Nevada City, more than 27,000 tourists traveled into the area, helping to contribute to city sales and hotel tax revenue.

In May 2010, Nevada City’s first year serving as a stage in the race, the city saw a more than $40,000 increase in sales tax revenue compared to the same time a year before, going from $106,987 in May 2009 to $148,071 in May 2010, when the race featured American Lance Armstrong. Sales tax revenue the following race year saw a slight year-over-year decrease dropping to around $126,000 in May 2011, city documents state.

The city’s transient occupancy tax revenue saw a marked increase in Nevada City’s second year with the tour, going from $8,627 in May 2010, to $15,478 in May 2011.

“There is a line item in the budget for economic development,” said Phelps. “If the city can’t come up with $15,000, maybe they can look into giving $5,000 or something. I was thinking maybe the city could look into the options that we have.”

City Manager Mark Prestwich said the city was not involved in the solicitation of Amgen funds.

“But there is a gap. All the money that was raised was used locally to provide (resources) for the event,” he said. “These were expenses paid to Nevada County businesses… If one of the council members would like to take action, they can make a motion Wednesday.”

Nevada City Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Cathy Whittlesey will hold a Go Fund Me campaign in August to raise the money to pay Strawser back.

“It’s difficult for one family to be responsible for this debt and we want to help,” she said. “We sure would appreciate anyone pitching in… I think that in the future it should be done differently, we’ll have to plan better for next year, and have a better process.”

Strawser hopes that the city and county look into different methods of funding big annual events, and says he will step aside from volunteering his time to bringing the Amgen tour to Nevada City, if things don’t change.

“We have to make the point that from now on, the cities and the county have to step up and find a way to fund the big events that are unique, that structurally support the foundation of our budgets and bring money in,” Strawser said. “There should be a fund set aside for major county wide events.”

In other business, the council will vote on a street closure request for the Nevada City Farm to Table event, a fundraiser that provides dining from local organic farms and restaurants.

Council members will also consider an ordinance that would simplify the city’s business license tax. Through the ordinance, businesses with 10 or more full-time staff would pay $150 a year, and businesses with nine or fewer full-time employees would be taxed $100 annually.

Nonprofits, home occupancy businesses and street vendors would pay an annual tax of $50.

The council will also hold a selection and nomination ceremony for the city’s new Mayor and Vice Mayor.

For more information go to

To contact Staff Writer Ivan Natividad, email or call 530-477-4236.

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