CRESTVIEW — A community organization’s request for free use of a city building for a school supplies giveaway drew a caution from city attorney Jerry Miller.
During Monday’s city council meeting, Concerned Citizens representative Rae Roberson requested the city waive its $25 fee for use of the Allen Park community hall for the organization’s annual Back to School Bash. The Aug. 9 event features a school supplies giveaway for any Crestview child, along with games and free hotdogs and hamburgers.
“We have set precedents that we have co-sponsored these sort of events in the past,” Councilman Tom Gordon said.
Miller cautioned that by providing free city facility use, officials were setting themselves up for problems should an objectionable non-profit request the same consideration.
“We've been down this trail before,” Miller said. “Then when the Nazis come in (asking for a fee waiver), you're going to have problems. If you're not going to enforce a fee, get rid of it.”
Council vice president Mickey Rytman, presiding over the meeting in President Shannon Hayes’ absence, offered to fund the Concerned Citizens’ facility use fee out of his own pocket.
Because the city has received many non-profit organizations' requests for free park or facility use, the previous council set a no-freebies policy.
Gordon said at the time that when the city budget is so tight that employees had to be furloughed, it didn’t make fiscal sense to give away facility use.
The new council has circumvented the policy by “co-sponsoring” a number of events, with the city’s contribution as a sponsor being free use of the facility.