Clarks Summit council says fee will prevent taxpayers from footing utility and maintenance costs.

Last updated: August 13. 2013 1:44PM - 871 Views

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CLARKS SUMMIT – Nonprofit organizations using the borough building must now pay a $25 per hour fee, according to a policy approved by council at its Aug. 6 meeting. The policy goes into effect immediately.

Council had previously allowed nonprofits, including a local bridge club, to use Loughney Hall on the second floor without a charge, but that has cut into borough finances. As a result taxpayers have been paying for the building’s additional electricity, heat and other expenses. There also has been a growing demand for use of the hall.

Council is not enacting the policy to make money, said President Gerrie Carey. Borough manager Virginia Kehoe added, “We’re just looking to pay the bills.”

Existing users, including the card-playing club, may be “grandfathered in” with terms to be agreed upon individually with council, according to the policy.

The policy states in part:

• Use is limited to nonprofit groups and events;

• Alcohol may not be served or provided, and smoking is not permitted in the building;

• The building must be reserved in advance;

• The fee must be paid within a week of use, or further use of the facility will be banned;

• Proof of liability insurance must be provided in advance with a minimum $250,000 in liability coverage;

• The renter, its guests and employees will not hold legally accountable the borough, its employees and council in the event of accidents;

• Renters must agree in writing to the new guidelines.

“It’s only fair these people contribute a little bit,” said Councilman Patrick Williams. He noted many members often use the elevator to get to the second floor. He said the elevator “costs us plenty,” and if it needs repair it will cost “big bucks,” Williams said.

The policy further states that “guidelines are not implemented as a means of restricting use or raising money,” but are being put in place so that the cost of “these non-borough related events should not be borne by the taxpayer.”

In a separate matter, council took no action on the proposed “adopt-a-meter” program aimed at freeing up parking spaces on State Street for shoppers while also providing spaces for store employees. Council will vote on the issue at its Sept. 4 meeting because it needs to adopt an amendment to the parking ordinance in order for the program to be put into effect, according to Kehoe.

Also, Police Chief Joe Laguzzi said his department is updating its Facebook page, which had been inactive for a while. The department plans to put photos and warrant information on the social network.

Council will re-advertise the selling of an EMA vehicle because the two bids it has received were too low. Council believes it should get about $3,000 for the vehicle, but the high bid was only $1,300.

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