Board hears fee waiver recommendations | Local News

City Council heard recommendations on fee waiver policies for community center activities and special events at its regular meeting on Tuesday, February 15.

Director of Community Services, Rachael Goodwin, presented staff’s proposed options for future consideration by Council.

“The Community Center is a facility that provides space for a multitude of community programs,” Goodwin said in his staff report to the council. “It serves as a recreation center, senior services center, meeting hall, performance hall, event space, exhibition hall and more.

“Many local and regional groups use the facility as a hub, holding meetings, social gatherings, etc. Over time, the number of canceled rentals within the facility has increased due to expanding user reach or increasing time requested for events.

“This increased demand has placed a strain on community center resources, including operations staff time, space availability as well as direct costs incurred.”

Goodwin described the staff’s recommendations for the community center as follows:

*All Fountain Hills-based nonprofit groups are eligible for a 50% discount on established nonprofit residential rates. Audio visual equipment will be available for use by a local non-profit group at no additional cost.

*Classrooms can be reserved after 2 p.m. on weekdays and must respect the opening hours of the community center.

*Booking start and end times must be considered in full, including any before or after time required for set-up, cleaning, catering needs, etc.

*Weekend reservations require a minimum of two ballrooms with a minimum of four hours rental.

*Reservations can be made up to six months in advance and are subject to availability.

*Proof of non-profit status will be required for all groups wishing to receive reduced fees.

“It is recognized that many groups will be impacted by these changes and staff will make every effort to work with our user groups to ensure a well-informed transition process,” Goodwin said.

The proposed recommendations for special events using park facilities are similar, including reducing allowable fees by 50%.

However, also considered are charges for direct costs including MCSO support, implementation of road closures, logistical items such as toilets, lights, fencing, etc. These are not eligible for a fee waiver.

All events, regardless of waiver status, must submit a special event request for review. The application must meet all city requirements, including timelines, layout plans, insurance certificates, traffic control plans, etc. City permit fees or security deposits are not eligible for fee waivers.

Goodwin said staff will continue to work with the Fountain Hills Civic and Cultural Association and the Chamber of Commerce regarding user agreements related to their activities.

FHCCA is an umbrella group for many organizations that regularly use the community center. The Chamber hosts large events such as Art Festivals, Stroll in the Glow Holidays, and Thanksgiving Day Parade, all of which require special planning and cost consideration.

These User Agreements will be reviewed separately by the Board.

Staff will draft the recommendations into policy form for final consideration by the Board at a later date.

User fees are reviewed on an annual basis and are adopted in conjunction with the City’s annual budget process.

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