Batesville Civic Center

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 26, 2010

No more free at the BCC: city says will lower rental

By Rupert Howell
There will be no more free rides as far as Batesville Civic Center’s charges for use pending adoption of an official policy that was discussed at a special meeting of the Batesville Board of Mayor and Aldermen Monday morning at the civic center.

Board members agreed to discount rent for the large main facility from $1,900 to $1,000 for groups qualifying, but have yet to spell out requirements to qualify such as not-for-profit or tax exempt.

The smaller meeting rooms will rent for 10 percent less for those same groups that qualify.

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Civic Center Director Roy Hyde told the board that prices to rent the facility were already determined on break-even numbers and that it would be up to them to determine how much they wanted to “give away.”

Hyde said, “A thousand dollars is about what it costs to turn on the air conditioning,” but mentioned that the community could still benefit as some of the events were “economic generators” that put sales tax back into city coffers stimulating business with local merchants.

Alderman Stan Harrison was stuck on the $1,000 fee for qualifying organizations saying that it would put people in the building and discourage those who just wanted something for nothing.

Hyde emphasized that the board, “Charge something no matter what,”  and said some school functions should continue to have use of the building free of charge.

Under a previous agreement, when the City accepted the property from the county to build the facility, an agreement was made to host the county and district livestock shows at no cost. The Northwest Mississippi Livestock Association formerly owned the property. That agreement remains intact and is not in question.

Hyde said under former administrations, “Everybody paid their way.”

Batesville City Clerk Laura Herrin told board members that she had called around to several municipalities with auditoriums and civic centers and said, “Nobody gives it away.”

The issue of allowing free use of the building came up at a previous meeting when Batesville Junior Auxiliuary asked to use the facility for its annual Charity Ball fundraiser. After the JA’s request was granted, other requests and inquiries started growing causing board members to look deeper into their policy.

Board members also discussed putting a cap on the number of events that could be “booked” at the discounted rate.

Attorney Colmon Mitchell is preparing an ordinance with Monday’s findings to present to the board for approval or modification at the next regular meeting scheduled for Tuesday, November 2.