Don’t waive – discount
Councils should not waive fees for service clubs and organizations.
That could be hard to hear for some, but recreation facilities have historically been losing money in Wellington County municipalities.
To help taxpayers pay for the upkeep of these multi-million dollar facilities, townships put a user fee system in place to generate income.
While many users pay the full rate, some service clubs and organizations come to council for fee waivers. While individually the amounts are small, when added up, the losses can be significant for the municipality. These fees go directly back into recreation to maintain the facilities.
Where do you draw the line? When does waiving fees become too much? Councils find themselves struggling every time this issue comes up.
Instead of waiving the fee completely, consider having a discounted rate for service clubs, even if it is half the cost. Or consider a one-time yearly fee or small monthly fee to allow clubs to use facilities at their leisure. From there, see how staff time and costs can be eliminated to reduce the fee further.
The key to this is having a clear policy on who is or is not a service club or organization.
Service clubs are integral to our communities, but so are public facilities.
Waiving for a cause
In small rural municipalities, community centres and township-run facilities are often the backbone of the area’s social scene.
Whether it’s weddings, weekly exercise classes or a slew of other events, those venues are in high demand. However, each year service clubs approach their municipal council like clockwork and ask to have the rental fee waived when using municipal facilities for fundraisers.
Now you may think, “They need to pay like the rest of us.” But let’s take a look.
Each year, for example, the Rockwood Lions and Lioness Clubs offer a Good Brothers event at Rockmosa Community Centre to raise money for the One Walk to Conquer Cancer. Each year council waives the hall rental fee.
Who can argue that? The would-be rental fee is going to a good cause. While that may seem to be a no-brainer, municipalities should look for an easier route.
Maybe it’s as simple as council having a pool of reserves for in-kind donations. When service clubs ask for a free rental the municipality can draw from reserves to cover the cost.
That way council has a finite amount of money to work with, service clubs would need to be organized to get the funding, and instead of giving a freebie council will be donating to the cause.
It’s a win-win-win.