Genoa town lease formula sent back for massaging
March 8, 2007
A conflict between two organizations using the Genoa Community Church over how much the town charges them may result in both paying more than they bargained for.
As they have previously, members of the Genoa church group complained in January that the monthly lease rate for Alcoholics Anonymous was much less and they asked for a rate reduction.
Church members pay $225 a month to use the church every Sunday, while AA members pay $25 a month to meet in the church on Tuesday nights. Both groups use the church for about two hours every week.
When interim Town Manager Lisa Granahan learned of the discrepancy, she said she consulted with county attorneys and the town’s insurance provider and was told any policy that might be construed as discriminatory could lead to legal action.
So she went to work on a formula for renting town facilities that could be applied to all groups, whether private or public.
The proposal includes a variety of discounts that would be applied to the groups, but even with a rent reduction of 90 percent, AA members would end up paying $86.66 a month, more than three times their present rate. The church’s rate would go to $291.66, an increase of $66.66, an amount that did not go without comment from board members.
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Residents expressed dismay at the increases for the two groups.
Marian Vassar said she felt both organizations were deserving of a break from the town.
“I’m kind of disturbed,” she said. “These two organizations serve an important weekly service to the town.”
Granahan said she was advised that when renting public facilities it is better not to consider what sort of organization is operating to prevent the possibility of discrimination.
Under the new policy, rent for the church would be $600 for 24 hours or $200 for two hours. The town hall rents for $55 for the first hour. Discounts for residents of the town, those using the buildings on weekdays and those who rent the buildings regularly are included.
Town board members asked Granahan to calculate what the total income from the buildings would be in a typical year and then massage the formulas to reduce the cost to the two organizations.
Building rentals is a distant second source of income for the town besides Candy Dance.