There’s an ordinance in place in Ripon that prohibits staging bingo games in city-owned facilities.
This is the same ordinance that forced the recent cancelation of the bingo fundraiser involving the Friends of the Senior Center and the Ripon Rotary Club, using the Senior Center building, in this case.
“The ordinance has to be changed,” said Rotary President Harrison Gibbs, pointing out to amending a part of the language during public comments of last week’s Ripon Council meeting.
“The issue is a trickle down affect and it hurts other fundraising events in the community due to the standing ordinance,” he added.
State law prohibits elected leaders from taking action on any item not on the agenda.
According to a 1998 ordinance, “no bingo games shall be conducted within any public building or on any public property with the city,” it read.
Many service organizations in town – included here are Rotary, Lions, Soroptimist, and Ripon High youth football, for example – are exempt from this low level gambling, considering that proceeds go back to the community.
For Rotary, these games help underwrite most of the $8,000 earmarked for the annual charitable causes, from high school scholarships to dictionaries going to all local third-grade students.
Nancy Vander Veen of the Senior Commission – she’s also a member of the Senior Center – indicated that the canceled fundraiser was to support the Rotary, Senior Center and Friends of the Senior Center with some of their upcoming programs and projects.
Gibbs, meanwhile, urged Council to review the ordinance and change that refers to public building or property within the city to pave the way for these fundraising events.
“I’ve already asked that this be agenized for our next meeting,” Councilman Dean Uecker said.
Staff and City Attorney Tom Terpstra will take a look at the law and the ordinance before bringing it back to the Feb. 3 Council session.