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Size matters for non -profit fundraisers
The community room at the transit center during the dedication luncheon in July. - photo by HIME ROMERO

It sounds like a deal that’s too good to pass up: A $1,100 discount once a year for non-profits to rent the City of Manteca’s state-of-the-art community room at the new $7 million transit center.

Many of the city’s non-profits aren’t exactly tripping over each other to take advantage of the once-a-year offer. That’s because the venue may have all the whistles and bells plus nice ambiance but it lacks one thing  — size.

While upwards of 452 people can be seated without tables the number drops to around 200 when tables are tossed into the mix.

That is problematic for a number of non-profits that typically have major fundraisers that draw anywhere from 300 to 500 attendees. The savings on rent in most cases would not be enough to compensate for reduced ticket sales. As such, the MRPS and FESM halls along with the Manteca Senior Center are clearly better situated to accommodate most non-profit events including the lion’s share of crab feeds.

The Manteca City Council adopted a rental policy for the 3,000-square-foot community room that allows Manteca non-profits to “rent” the community room once a year at no charge except for a $25 per hour facility usage fee to cover city costs. That is in addition to $150 if they want chairs and tables set up and $100 to rent the kitchen.

The policy gave non-profits and government agencies 45 days after council approval to book their free use of the community room for the next 12 months.

 At the conclusion of 45 days, the community room rental will be open to anyone.

That policy means neither a non-profit or private event can take place at the transit station until December. The city has already hosted a League of California cities gathering in the community room.

The policy also calls for local residents to get priority over those who live outside the city limits when it comes to securing hall use. The same is true of non-profits that are based in Manteca as opposed to outside the city.

City sponsored programs are allowed to book the facility 18 months in advance, government sponsored events benefiting Manteca residents as well as non-profit organization can reserve rooms a year in advance, and private users can’t reserve the rooms for more than nine months in advance.

The recommendations were made by a citizens committee appointed to review the proposed city rental rates after Manteca for-profit and non-profit hall owners complained the city was undercutting them.

Non-profits and local residents are able to rent the community room on weekends and holidays for $1,100 or $100 more than originally was proposed. Friday evening rates for non-profits and city residents are  $350. That’s $50 more than originally suggested. Non-residents will be charged $1,200 on weekends and holidays and $750 for Friday evenings. Government organizations would be subject to a $25 per hour charge either on Friday evenings or weekends and holidays.

There are separate rates for weekday daily and weekday evening uses. Non-profits can rent the small community room on weekdays for $15 an hour or $50 an hour on weekday evenings. There is a minimum rental for weekdays but for weekday evenings the non-profits must rent the facility for at least two hours. There are also government, resident private use, and non-resident private use rate classifications for the small room, large room or both.

The community room has capacity for 452 people seated without tables with that space being able to break down into two smaller rooms — one handling 318 and the other 134. The overall number of people that could be accommodated for dining ranges from 200 to 250.

The community room complete with available kitchen was identified early on in the transit center process by the council as being a critical component of the facility. That was due to what the city perceived as a shortage of rental hall space in Manteca plus the need to create a downtown focal point.