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Ripon looking closer at facility fee waivers
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RIPON – The Ripon City Council held off the requests Tuesday by two non-profit groups seeking fee waivers for upcoming events out of concern other organizations may ask for the same treatment.

The Ripon Rotary Club is hoping again to get free use of the Ripon Community Center for the April 15 Bingo and Poker Tournament.

Merissa’s Closet, another local non-profit organization, is seeking a similar request on the same facility for later next month.

“Not having to pay that fee would allow us to help change more lives one dress at a time,” said Melinda Shaw, who started the Marissa’s Closet about a year ago in memory of her late daughter, Marissa McLeod.

Shaw also serves as president of Marissa’s Closet, which sponsored a prom for Camp Taylor – a place for children with heart diseases – and An Evening of Dreams, a gala event for those with special needs (Marissa’s Closet members not only provided the dresses but served as host and hostess and chaperons).

“We give away dresses but we also do a lot of other things,” she said.

Rotary made a similar request at the last council meeting – Vice Mayor Garry Krebbs was absent, leaving Mayor Elden “Red” Nutt and Councilman Charlie Gay as the only voting members on the issue, with Chuck Winn and Dean Uecker, both Rotarians, having to step down due to conflict of interest – but the action was tabled because of the lack of numbers.

President Mike Garcia noted that Rotary puts back 70 percent of the profits from this annual event to Ripon in the form of scholarships, youth organizations and sports programs. He received a fee waiver a year ago.

Council had the necessary three members needed to discuss the issue, but the facility-use policy, in particular, fee waiver for non-profits, were cause for concern. Nutt noted that at least two other groups are waiting in the wings to make the same request.

“Where do we draw the line?” he asked.

Nutt added, “If we give it (free) to one group we have to give it to all,”

He indicated that non-profit organizations such as the Quarterback Club will rent out rather than request a fee waiver for use of the city-owned facilities.

The cost for non-profit groups such as Rotary and Marissa’s Closet is marked half-priced at $560 coupled with an $800 security deposit.

Council has plans to re-visit the policy as a whole at the next meeting before deciding on the two fee-waiver requests.