Tip: Update on fee waivers | Local News
City Council heard from staff at its November 16 session with an update on the ongoing discussion regarding fee waivers for the use of city facilities and amenities. The board has approved an interim fee waiver policy for fields, courts and sports leagues, but work continues on a fee policy for community centers and special events.
Community Services Manager Rachael Goodwin told council there is an increasing demand for facilities and staff are striving to have a fair and consistent way of allocating availability.
Goodwin said the sports policy includes uniform guidelines for the city’s demand for resources and associated rental fees for sports, leagues and youth organizations.
The policy also provides a fair way for organizers to seek fee reductions and establish mutually beneficial partnerships between the community and Town Hall.
The policy specifies that no more than 50 percent of the applicable fees are eligible for waiver and establishes guidelines, criteria and a process for the allocation of resources for playing fields, courts and sports leagues as well as conditions for fee reduction.
The policy also allows for a user agreement in exceptional situations.
User agreements describe the responsibilities of the users of the facilities, including costs and / or insurance; loss of eligibility for non-compliance with guidelines and requirements; Planning; compliance with all applicable city rules, regulations, laws and ordinances.
In an effort to meet the needs of local youth sports leagues, staff have developed a Fountain Hills Youth Sports Alliance. The goal of this program is to affiliate all youth sports groups in Fountain Hills to a cohesive and fair set of operational standards, including a code of conduct and an established programming priority.
In order to benefit from reduced fees for the rental of pitches, courts or leagues, participation in the Alliance is required. The Youth Sports Alliance is open to all youth programs and leagues that operate within Fountain Hills and serve the youth of the community.
Goodwin emphasized the need for possible user agreements by demonstrating an example of cost. She noted that for Little League, the average annual costs for fields are $ 29,000 and $ 12,000 for lighting for a total of $ 41,000. For the Soccer Club, it would be $ 8,700 for the fields and $ 7,500 for the lights totaling $ 16,200. Goodwin said either way neither of the leagues would likely be able to afford those costs, even with a 50% cut.
User agreements would address issues related to storage, use of snack bar stands, field availability, programming, and community service efforts.
Staff also offered recommendations for fee reductions that apply to the use of community center facilities. The proposal is that all Fountain Hills-based nonprofit groups are eligible for a fee reduction of up to 50 percent of established residential / nonprofit fee rates.
Classroom space will be available for reservation after 2:00 p.m. on weekdays in accordance with the hours of operation of the community center.
The start and end times of the reservation are taken into account in their entirety to include the hours before and after installation, cleaning and catering.
Weekend bookings require a minimum of two ballrooms with a minimum of four hours rental. This is to accommodate staff time on weekends.
Proof of non-profit status will be required for all groups wishing to benefit from fee reductions.
Cost reductions do not apply to bulky items such as stage set-up or dance floor. All deposits, fees, permits and time limits apply as standard.
Exceptions to the policy may apply in exceptional cases and will be limited to programs that serve an altruistic and essential mission such as blood drives, or enhance programs offered within the community center.
Fee reductions for special events apply, as in all cases, only to non-profit groups in Fountain Hills. The existing special event request process must be completed and discounts do not apply to deposits, fee permits or similar costs. Events are subject to availability and review by the Special Events Committee.
The city is expected to discuss a user agreement with the Chamber of Commerce to resolve issues with its six flagship events: Fountain Festival Fall, Fountain Festival Spring, Thanksgiving Day Parade, Oktoberfest, Stroll in the Glow, and State of the Town. .
Such an agreement would take into account the costs, programming, marketing and other partnership efforts associated with the events.
Staff said one of the toughest challenges with community center fees is hosting the Fountain Hills Civic and Cultural Association (FHCCA), aka: “I Love Fountain Hills”. This is a long-standing organization that predates incorporation and once ran the Community Center (on Saguaro Boulevard). FHCCA has a myriad of spin-off groups and committees that use city facilities. CHF Canada and associated groups have always been exempt from fees, but the current proposed policy does not allow more than 50% off.
Tammy Bell, representing CHF Canada, told the board that the group, with all of its programs and activities, uses the community center 520 hours a year and involves hundreds of citizens. She also noted that the group has contributed hundreds of thousands of donations to city activities and provided hundreds of volunteers over the years.
“Honor our generous, long-term relationship that we have had,” said Bell.
She said they would be happy to discuss a user agreement.