City Council amended its long-term lease policy for non-profits and its fee schedule at Tuesday night's meeting.
The long-term lease, events taking place daily or weekly, will limit non-profits to four separate rentals over one calendar year at its half-price (non-profit) rate and no more than 90 consecutive days in advance. Contract extensions can be made no earlier than 60 days into the current lease. Non-profits reserving the facilities after four times in a calendar year will pay fees at resident/non-resident rates. The language in the fee schedule, available on the city’s website, was also amended to reflect the changes.
“The non-profit intent was for short term and not for long-term,” City Administrator Ed Driggers said. “We wanted windows of opportunity to use it if needed.”
The need to amend the long-term lease policy came about when Grace Heritage Church, running out of space, asked for an 18-month rental agreement, to take effect every available Sunday beginning January 2013 for the Cannon Centre, two City Hall Events rooms and the lobby from 8 a.m. – 1 p.m. with an option to renew. As a non-profit Christian Heritage would have paid $745 (full rate is $1,490) for each Sunday rental.
While it provided steady income for the city’s venues it also would have locked out private individuals/groups from renting any of the venues until later Sunday afternoon unless events were planned more than 180 days in advance. Driggers said, at a previous council meeting, the cost to the city for servicing the facilities, cleanup and janitorial services would net “about $200 a week.”
Councilman Lee Dumas (District 4) voiced a similar reason asking council to amend the policy. “I don’t mind an organization using the facility long-term. But I don’t want to put us in a position where we’re losing money.”
Councilman Wayne Griffin (District 2) said he favored amending the policy, “Because I don’t want to lock someone out of using the facilities because they didn’t plan almost two years out.”
Driggers told council, “fees associated with the venues and the city’s maintenance wouldn’t cover the expenses of wear and tear on the facilities, chairs and equipment” to such a long-term agreement with a non-profit.
“The bigger issue is it was never the intent of the city to use it as a money maker over a long period. In my mind it was intended for use on a weekly basis,” Driggers said.
City Council also approved a higher security deposit for events serving alcohol, beer and wine. “It’s a lot easier to pay back the money than collect it,” Driggers said, drawing laughs from Council members.