City recorder Randy Sanders and Consolidated Public Works Board member Nancy Shobe discuss changes made to an event request form at Thursday's CPWB meeting.

Consolidated Board: Liability insurance could be required for events on city property open to public

BUCKHANNON – The City of Buckhannon’s Consolidated Public Works Board approved revisions to the city event request form, including COVID-19-related revisions and new rules regarding liability insurance.

During the July 23 meeting, the board considered several changes to the event request form, including making liability insurance mandatory. City Recorder Randy Sanders said they revisited the language of the revisions that would have required liability event insurance.

The event request form is one residents and organizations are required to fill out if they wish to host an official event at a city park or on city property, for example.

“Under even rules number one it says, ‘the city facilities are maintained for use and enjoyment by our citizens. The city does require that all planned events be approved in advance of the gathering,’” Sanders read from the form. “ ‘Commercial events and certain organized gatherings may be required to show evidence of a valid general liability insurance,’ and it goes on to explain the type of insurance, it now says ‘may require,’ and it’ll be up to the board to determine what risk factors there are before us. The board can then determine whether they should be asked to provide a certificate of insurance.”

Sanders said this language makes it so insurance is not an automatic requirement, but the board will evaluate any future events and determine if they should have event insurance or not.

“If I came here and stood at that podium, and said ‘I’m going to demonstrate trampolines, and I’m going to put trampolines in Jawbone and I want people to jump up and down, we would probably tell them they need insurance,” Sanders said.

Director of Finance and Administration for the City of Buckhannon Amby Jenkins said their insurance agent Jamie Powell explained if an event is public, it should have liability insurance.

“If it’s the Jenkins family reunion, that’s a little different because it’s an invite-only kind of thing or it’s a private event, but if it’s a public event where anybody in the community can come and be a part of it, that’s where the liability insurance probably should be a part of it,” Mayor Robbie Skinner said.

Board member CJ Rylands asked if this would apply to events such as Festival Fridays, and Skinner said Create Buckhannon already has liability insurance.

“Create Buckhannon has yearlong liability insurance and I happen to know that because I do it,” Skinner said. “I’m a member of the organization, so I know if Amby calls me up and says ‘hey we’re getting close to Festival Fridays,’ I just need to get you to give her a certificate of insurance; it says something about Buckhannon being additionally insured, and it’s covered for the time of the event.”

Skinner said most commercial insurance policies already include what would be required by the event request form. Board member Nancy Shobe asked what small groups that don’t already have insurance should do and said she was worried the policy could be discriminatory.

“We can definitely provide information on where they can get one-time insurance for their events,” Sanders said.

Skinner said one-time event insurance would cost at most $150 or $160 and asking for groups to have liability insurance is common in Buckhannon.

“The county commission, as well as the Upshur County school system require it already, so we’re not doing anything that’s outside of the box – this is this is pretty much the standard procedure in our community,” Skinner said.

Sanders also wanted to outline another change to the form that gives the board the right to cancel any facility use permit for any previously approved event. This measure was issued in case any new measures are enacted by Governor Jim Justice which might make any future events be in violation of any new rules.

Skinner entertained a motion to accept the new event request form, beginning immediately. The motion was made by Rylands and seconded by board member Pam Bucklew. The motion passed unanimously.

The rest of the new measures can be found in a previous My Buckhannon article here.

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