Op-Ed: Non-profits get a 90% Break on Cost of City Services

By Sue Ann Douglas, Special to Rochester Media:

Did you know that the City of Rochester gives non-profit organizations who hold an event in the City Park a 90% discount off the actual the cost of police, fire and DPW services associated with their event?

Sue Ann Douglas

Sue Ann Douglas

That’s right. The non-profits only pay 10% of the actual cost. So, if the support for the event costs $15,000.00, the group pays only $1,500.00. It’s no wonder everyone wants to come to our park for their fundraisers. Cities like Birmingham require that hosts of events in their park pay the full cost for City support services.

In the City of Rochester, the taxpayers pick up the tab which was a total of $178,635.32 for fiscal years 2013, 2014, and 2015. (Source: ┬áJune 27, 2016 City council packet). Think of how much revenue is spent on this over 10 years, 20 years. This isn’t chump change and that money could pay for infrastructure and other City needs. To me, this looks like a back door method of making charitable contributions with City tax dollars.

I have questioned whether this is a lawful use of City funds. When I was a County Commissioner, I attended a conference where a CPA from the State Treasurer’s office made a presentation on determining lawful expenditures. I still have the material from that session and it is very clear that you can’t write City checks to your favorite charity.

I also found a memo from the outside auditors from another county that said that services or property could not be donated to churches, veterans groups, or non-profit organizations.

So, what do you think? Please add your thoughts in the comments section.


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