City cracks down on building fee waivers

Published 12:14 am Saturday, September 19, 2015

When the fiscal year for the city of Selma rolls around Oct. 1, the city will no longer waive rental fees for the George P. Evans Reception Hall and the Riverfront Amphitheater.

The council recently agreed to no longer waive fees for the buildings because it is costing the city money.

“One year we lost roughly $35,000 to $40,000 in waiving fees, and we cannot continue to balance a budget giving away money like that,” said Council President Corey Bowie during Thursday night’s work session.

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In 2009, the city adopted a resolution to establish a renting procedure for public buildings. According to Resolution 199-08/09, rental fees are only waived for events put on by Selma City Schools or non-profit organizations that do not charge admission.

“The school or non-profit organization shall not charge any entry fee at the door, except for Selma City Schools conducting fundraisers for the schools and/or organizations,” the resolution states.

“The reason why the [Public Buildings] Committee felt we needed to do that was because those are two of the latest buildings that we were able to acquire,” Bowie said Friday. “With those being the latest buildings we’re looking at the fact that they are going to have high maintenance upkeep. That is why the committee decided, especially with those two buildings, not to waive.”

Rental fees for the George P. Evans Reception Hall start at $300 for weekday events and go up to $500 for events on Saturday and Sunday and $600 for weddings or receptions. The rental fee for the amphitheater is $3,500.

Other public buildings, which include the Larry D. Striplin Performing Arts Center, the Carl C. Morgan Convention Center and the Vaughan-Smitherman Museum range from $125 to $300.

It was originally recommended that the council not waive fees, but it was not always upheld. Bowie said money loss and fairness are the main reasons for the decision to strictly enforce the policy.

“It puts a strain on the budget, especially the budget for the Public Buildings Department because when you’re not recouping any funds from the building rentals,” Bowie said. “It does put a strain on the Public Buildings budget and also the whole general budget as a whole.”

Bowie said enforcing the fees will help the city take better care of the buildings, make upgrades, pay utility fees and for employees to attend the events.

“We have to maintain [the buildings], and we’re also looking at the employees that have to work it, and we’re also looking at when there are repairs needed,” Bowie said. “We have to have money on hand to repair anything that may be damaged.”

Bowie said the council will begin following the original recommendation for the buildings that was made by the Public Buildings Committee.