For the first time in 14 years, city leaders in Madeira Beach want to charge area nonprofit Old Salt rental fees on the grounds they planned to use for their annual "King of the Beach" tournament fishing charity event.

  • "King of the Beach" proceeds go each year to Pediatric Cancer Foundation
  • Madeira Beach in the past has waived rental fees for grounds
  • Funds for rental cost would come from money otherwise donated

In previous years, King of the Beach organizers said the city has waived rental fees for the grassy area where the event is traditionally held, due to the tremendous economic impact the event has on the area.

This year, however, the city wants $9,000 from the nonprofit to rent the space, money that would otherwise go to charities the event benefits, such as the Pediatric Cancer Foundation.

Proceeds from the "King of the Beach" Tournament and Festival go to a number of different charities. (Photo courtesy Old Salt)

"Instead of paying a fee, we'd rather write the charity a check," said Old Salt's Tom Verdensky.

Organizers said they already pay the city $3,000 for trash collection and other related costs.

What's different this year is the city's leadership. A new mayor, Maggi Black, and two new city commissioners, Nancy Oakley and John Douthirt, now sit on the board.

It's a difference veteran commissioner Terry Lister noted during a workshop on Feb. 26.

“It’s a huge economic impact for the area and it’s been obvious to the past commissions," Lister said. "But for some reason it’s not quite so obvious to this one, but it's still obvious to me."

Last year, for example, the event drew 24,000 visitors to the area with more than 600 boats.

Old Salt representatives told us that if the city will not waive those fees, they'll be forced to move their event to Treasure Island or St. Pete Beach. They showed the commission just how many charities support, efforts that were not lost on the new city manager, Jonathan Evans, who told the commission the city wasn't even counting on those rental fees.

"It is not budgeted as a revenue," Evans said. "So, if it was the pleasure of the board to waive that fee it would not have a fiscal impact to the agency.”

Evans also proposed an idea to sign a five-year contract to keep "King of the Beach" in Madeira Beach.

The Madeira Beach Commission is scheduled to vote on waiving the fees and on the issue of the contract next Wednesday.