March 25, 2010; Independent Mail | It’s rare to find good news about public authorities’ interest in charging fees to nonprofits. Here’s one we stumbled on, and though it’s a few days old, we cite it as an example that other local governments might want to pay attention to.
In Georgia, the Hart County Recreation Department just reversed a policy of charging nonprofits other than the Little League and a local square dance club for using the County’s recreation facilities. One commissioner got the message saying, “If we do it for one, we’re going to have to do it for all. We need to make a fundamental change that all nonprofits are exempt” from the fee for using ball fields, tennis courts, picnic shelters, etc.
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However, nonprofits and for-profits will have to put down a deposit of $100 for using the community building in case there is damage from usage. OK, this is small potatoes in some ways. But the principles are clear. Tax exempt should also mean fee exempt, since fees are in many ways simply camouflaged usage taxes. And nonprofits have to be treated fairly across the board.—Rick Cohen