By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Ripon ends free rent for non-profits
Placeholder Image
RIPON – The City of Ripon will no longer grant fee waivers to local non-profit groups seeking to rent facilities for their fundraising events.

City Council last Tuesday voted 4-1 on a policy affecting such agencies hoping for free use of the Ripon Community Center, for example.

“This was not an easy decision,” said Councilman Garry Krebbs, who has been involved with non-profit organizations for the past 35 years. “But we have to balance our budget and we had to come up with a reasonable solution.”

That solution included the following:

• Non-profit groups would be required to complete a non-profit agency eligibility application each and every year.

• These groups must be registered in the City’s Master List of non-profit agencies.

• The majority of its members – that’s 51 percent or more – must live within city limits.

• Those eligible would still pay a use-of-facility fee but at a reduced rate per one calendar year. The bigger of the two discounts would go from Monday to Thursday, covering just the cost for operation. Cost for using the Community Center during the weekend (Friday through Saturday) would be half-off the rental fee.

• The City may request proof of an IRS non-profit annual filing. Any changes made to the organization that may affect the agency’s eligibility for the reduced fees must be reported. Failing to do so may result in disqualification for the reduced fee.

“We sat down with staff and tried to be as fair as we could,” Mayor Elden “Red” Nutt said.

Council, in the past, had waived the fees to such groups as the Ripon Rotary Club. Each year, this local service club conducts its annual Bingo and Poker Tournament, with proceeds going back to the community for scholarships, youth sports organizations, library donations, to name a few.

“This (policy) will put a dent in our net profits,” said Rotary President Mike Garcia, who noted that this year’s Bingo and Poker Tournament is scheduled for this Friday.

He respected the council’s decision.

Melinda Shaw, who is the president of Marissa’s Closet, had also sought a fee waiver for the upcoming annual dinner / dance and silent auction planned for the end of this month.

She’s the mother of the late Marissa McLeod, for whom the non-profit organization established in March 2010 is named after.

“Not having to pay that fee would (have) allowed Marissa’s Closet to help change more lives one dress at a time,” Shaw said.

For the volunteers involved in Marissa’s Closet, the annual dinner/dance and silent auction is their once-a-year fundraising event.

Proceeds go towards various endeavors including scholarships awarded to a pair of graduating local high school students.

Councilman Dean Uecker, however, offered to up his donation to Marissa’s Closet to help defray cost for the dinner /dance planned for April 30.

Councilman Chuck Winn voted against the change in this policy.

“I have a problem with it,” he said. “There’s not enough information here for a more appropriate direction on this policy.”

Winn had also hoped for a dollar amount on the losses absorbed by the City on fee waivers on any facility.

“It’s not unusual to have a $20,000 to $30,000 shortfall for the Community Center,” said City Administrator Leon Compton.

Krebbs estimated 20 qualifying non-profit groups in Ripon. “I know it was a considerable amount,” he said.

He added: “If you do a waiver for one, you have to do it for everyone – that’s not fair.”

Councilman Charlie Gay agreed.

“I think we’ve done the best we could do with this policy based on the way it is,” he said. “We can’t afford to operate with a loss.”