B y Lee Tugas
To charge or not to charge, that was the question the Whitehall Town Board considered regarding non-profit and profit groups using space in town buildings.
At its monthly meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 12, the board agreed that it needed to “formulate a policy,” as Supervisor George Armstrong phrased it, about charging fees for groups using town buildings, especially the Recreation Center.
The board authorized Armstrong to request a $100 per month donation from a recently formed Weight Watchers Group.
The board also authorized Armstrong to grant permission to the Weight Watchers group to use the Recreation Center for their meetings.
Use of the Recreation Center has grown in recent years, and Armstrong listed at least four groups using the building: Alcoholics Anonymous, a Tai Chi group, Whitehall Senior Citizens and a group called Weight Challenge.
It was the question whether or not these groups, particularly Weight Challenge, paid a monthly stipend, and which of them was non-profit and which was for-profit that generated the idea that the town needs a donations policy.
Attorney offers advice
Town Attorney Erika Sellar Ryan said the town had flexibility in the matter:
“If you are a for-profit, but your work involves health and safety, you can be charged X-payment,” Sellar said.
“If you are a for-profit, but your work does not involve health and safety, you can be charged Y-payment,” she said.
“You can decide it case by case with a set of criteria,” Ryan concluded.
Past Practice used as model
The board resolved the matter by recalling past practice: a previous Weight Watchers group was asked to make a monthly $100 donation. Ryan advised Armstrong not only to inform the group that they may use the Recreation Center, but also to tell them that the board will be formulating a uniform policy for profits and non-profits. In the meantime, the suggested monthly donation will be $100.
Last year, the town weighed a similar policy regarding the use of the Skenesborough Canal
Side Park, ultimately deciding that non-profit organizations wouldn’t be charged.