The Lassen County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a request for a reduced rental rate at the Lassen Veterans Memorial Hall for Lassen Family Services and its Dancing for a Brand New Me production, but District 4 Supervisor Aaron Albaugh voted against a similar request from the Lassen County Chamber of Commerce. (District 1 Supervisor Chris Gallagher was absent).
Dancing for a Brand New Me
According to the staff report, “Lassen Family Services is a local nonprofit organization that is committed to ending abuse and provides a spectrum of community services for the prevention, education and support to victims of violence.
“Lassen Family Services has been conducting an annual event called Dancing for a Brand New Me at the Susanville Veterans Memorial Building since 2014. The proceeds from the event directly support program services. For past events the Board of Supervisors has approved a reduced fee for use of the Susanville Veterans Memorial Building.
“For this year’s 2023 production, Lassen Family Services is requesting a waiver of all building fees for the event … “
Pete Heimbigner, director of public works/transportation presented the matters to the board. He said the standard rate for Lassen Family Services and Dancing for a Brand New Me would use the Veterans Memorial Hall Oct. 16 through Oct. 22 would be $1,250 and the reduced fee option would be $508. He said last year they asked that no fee be charged due to not being able to use the building for a year or two due to COVID.
A representative from LFS said many dancers return for this year’s event as it recaps previous dance concerts from the past 10 years.
LFS’ Desiree Miller said the money raised at the event helps the organization cover expenses at the shelter that are not covered by grants.
“It’s our biggest fundraiser,” Miller said. “We’re all nonprofit, run by grants and there are only certain things we can spend our money on with grants, and so this helps pay for things at the shelter that we can’t afford.”
Resident Elaine Jacobs suggested the board waive the fee because LFS is on such a limited budget.
The board unanimously approved the reduced fee.
According to a letter to the supervisors from the Lassen County Chamber of Commerce, “The Lassen County Chamber of Commerce will be coordinating the annual Dinner and Award Ceremony on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023. We would like to hold this event to honor our membership and the greater community at the Veterans Memorial Hal and request the use of the hall for a full 24 hours.
“Our Chamber membership consists of more than 300 members ranging from large and small businesses to individual friends of the chamber. At this event we will be sharing our recent achievements and going over future endeavors. We will also be recognizing Business of the Year, Volunteer of the Year and Shopper of the Year.
“We request the fees be waived for use of the hall and your support of the event.”
According to the staff report, the board could select “one of the following fee options: 1) Charge standard fee in amount of $380; or 2) a reduced fee in the amount of $150; or 3) waive all fees.
District 4 Supervisor Aaron Albaugh asked County Administrative Officer Richard Egan if the chamber had recently received a substantial sum of fire recovery settlement money.
“They did receive some funding from that indiscriminate settlement that PG&E made,” Egan said.
“We just put a lot of money into the building, a lot just in the roof itself,” said District 2 Supervisor and chair, Gary Bridges. “I don’t mind helping out a fellow organization, but just to let them use it for free, I think we ought to charge them something.”
“The (reduced rate of) $150 (a day) is just for the lights, cooling, heating whatever?” asked District 3 Supervisor Tom Neely.
“Yes,” Heimbigner said. “Typically when we do the reduced use fees it’s usually not for a single-time usage, it’s for a multi-day thing … What we’re backing out is the admin fee because that’s usually a one-time fee.”
Neely also asked about insurance, but Heimbigner said the renter is responsible for the insurance.
Kelly Ackley, executive director of the Lassen County Chamber of Commerce, addressed the board.
Albaugh said the chamber “had a pretty good chunk of change from the Dixie Fire settlement.”
Ackley said the chamber received $250,000 in a civil settlement from PG&E. She said so far none of that money has been used.
“The funds were given to us for how the Dixie Fire affected the community for tourism in the years to come,” Ackley said, “so we’re rationalizing how we’re going to spend the money.”
Albaugh said some county departments did not receive any of that settlement money, “so I’m not very interested in spending the taxpayers money on this here when you guys got a pretty good settlement. My opinion and my opinion alone.”
District 5 Supervisor asked Ackley about the purpose of the chamber’s use of the building, and she said it was for a member appreciation dinner and awards and all the chamber’s funds come from memberships. She said the chamber puts on other community events, but those are designed to break even.
“We’re doing a member appreciation dinner to celebrate our membership and we’re going to be appointing a business of the year, a volunteer of the year and share our achievements that we’ve done and share what we’re going to be doing in the future.”
Neely asked about the chamber’s budget, not including the settlement money, and Ackley said about $5,000.
Janesville resident Denise Pickens said the Chamber ought to pay its way.
“You’ve got $250,00 and you’re asking for $380 from the taxpayers,” Pickens said. “I know it’s not much, but 380 bucks is still 380 bucks.”
Ingram moved to give the chamber the reduced rate of $150, and the motion passed 3-1, with Albaugh voting no.