comments

Scouts signal truce over city fee dispute

Two troops come to council to show support for fee compromise
By: Jon Brines, Placer Herald correspondent
-A +A

 

New nonprofit meeting space fees

$25 per hour

$5 additional hour

$200 floating deposit

Source: City of Rocklin

 

The Rocklin City Council unanimously approved a new fee schedule for Boys and Girl Scouts and other nonprofit groups previously on a fee waiver for meeting at city facilities.

The plan approved at the April 23 meeting will require qualified nonprofits to pay a floating $200 deposit and agree to pay $25 per hour for a large room and $12 for a small room with an additional hour costing $5, with a three-hour minimum.

“We came a long way from where we were several months ago,” said Rocklin Troop 29 Scoutmaster Jeff Sherer. “While the $25 per hour (fee) is not free, not everyone is 100 percent satisfied, but we’re all happy with how much work the city has done to work with us.”

More than a dozen Boy Scouts showed up to show support for the new policy, which was much less than a standing-room-only crowd at a meeting in November that got a lot of media attention. The nonprofit groups and their families were angered when they got wind of the waivers going away.

Rent for the Community Center’s main hall, according to the city’s website, currently costs a $350 deposit and $90 per hour for residents and $115 for non-residents, with a three-hour minimum. Some groups expressed that would have been unsustainable for them. The compromise was brokered after seven months of meetings and discussions with various stakeholders and council members through an ad-hoc committee formed by the city. For Rocklin Troop 349 Scoutmaster Tom Dolan, the new $25 rates are acceptable.

“This is a decent policy for the residents of Rocklin,” Dolan told the council. “A Scout is thrifty, so we’re going to make it work in our budgets.”

The Rocklin troop had been using the fee waver for 20 years while meeting at the Rocklin Community Center. While Dolan said passing on the fees to parents is an option, they’ll focus on fundraising.

Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 904 and American Legion Russell Holland spoke in support of the scouts.

“We’re concerned about the Boy Scouts. They help us every Memorial Day and Veterans Day. They place crosses and flags. We donate to them,” Holland said.

The VFW is exempt from paying for use of the community center per its 1961 agreement as part of the sale of Finn Hall to the city, when it was outlined that the veterans group would be allowed to use the hall for two days each month. At some point in time, Rocklin Public Affairs and Economic Growth Manager Karen Garner explained, the meeting place shifted from Finn Hall to the Community Center.

While the city had said the waivers created a situation, in which groups were using city utilities and not paying for them, City Manager Rick Horst said the new fees are not tied to the amount of energy the groups actually use.

“It wasn’t totally arbitrary,” he said. “It was a consensus number that allows us to pay for some of the more basic costs, which is utility, for the most part.”

The scouts will have to clean up after their meetings but will not be charged for that additional time, according to Horst.

“Ultimately they have to prove they’ll clean up appropriately so that reduced the custodial costs, so it’s just utility costs,” he said. “Now our broad overhead costs are still somewhat being subsidized.”

That means the city will pick up the tab for the wear and tear and eventual replacement of carpet and heating and cooling systems, and building insurance.

“We thought it was a fair balance between those issues,” Horst said.

The council agreed, as the unanimous approval will bring the new fees to use by the new fiscal year in July. The new rates will apply Monday through Thursday, provided Monday isn’t a holiday. If nonprofits want a weekend, they have to pay the prevailing rate.