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Fees anger advisory leader

City: Cost-cutting proposal would mean 3 groups would pay rent for facilities

Posted: June 29, 2010 10:18 p.m.
Updated: June 30, 2010 4:55 a.m.
 

A Santa Clarita proposal to start charging a use fee for city facilities where three local community groups meet has angered the leader of the Canyon Country Advisory Committee.

“If this is going to be a business, why have taxpayer money pay for it?” committee Chairman Al Ferdman said of the Santa Clarita Activities Center, where the committee has met for free. “Why not give it to the private sector?”

Ferdman said the advisory committee provides a service to the public by hosting election forums and developers’ meetings.

“The facility is staffed to 10 p.m. even when no one is using the public meeting rooms. How is that a budget- and head-count issue?” Ferdman wrote in an e-mail to committee members.

City spokeswoman Gail Ortiz said the Saugus Action Committee and the Whittaker-Bermite Citizens Advisory Group will also have to start paying the $51-per-hour charge for meeting space, along with the Canyon Country group.

The city also has agreed to eliminate staff support for the three groups, moves that become effective in September.

Ortiz said the charge for building use goes toward cleaning and utility bills.

“We don’t make any profit off it,” she said. “We’ve helped them out for a number of years with free space. I’m hoping Al will say ‘thank you.’”

Ortiz said the group has gotten more political in recent years, with the organization taking positions on City Council candidates.

Ferdman has asked advisory committee members to attend the Santa Clarita City Council’s July 13 meeting to speak out. But if nothing changes, Ferdman said, they’ll figure something out.

“One thing is for sure: We’re not going away,” he said.

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