County may charge to rent Cloud building

Published 8:23 am Friday, January 27, 2012

Decatur County Commissioners may soon approve policies for the use of the Cloud Livestock Facility and other county-owned meeting places.

At a workshop held before commissioners’ meeting Tuesday night, County Administrator Tom Patton said a complaint had been made that the Cloud building, which has a large arena/multipurpose room, a classroom and a kitchen, was being used for private functions. Patton said that the building was intended to be used primarily for agriculture-related events or events sponsored by local governments.

Patton said the complaint was that a private businessman with agricultural ties had held a Christmas dinner for customers and was planning to hold another event next week. The issue was not with the businessman or the family-friendly events he was holding, but rather that the county had no clear policy for the building’s use for private parties.

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For example, with the exception of charging the organizers of a for-profit dog show $500 per day for using the building, no usage fees had ever been charged to people who reserved the building, County Finance Director Carl Rowland said. County Attorney Brown Moseley said he recommended that if anyone other than a government entity wanted to rent the building, they should be charged a fee.

“The building should be able to be used by any legitimate group; it was built with taxpayer money,” said Commissioner Butch Mosely. “I don’t have a problem charging a business that wants to rent the building, but it doesn’t need to be an exorbitant amount.”

Commissioner Russell Smith said there were some quasi-public uses of the facility, such as a visit by attendees of the Georgia Peanut Tour this past fall, that shouldn’t be charged because they promoted Bainbridge and Decatur County. However, Smith said that in his view, any groups that wished to rent the building could at least pay a small fee for utility use and cleanup after their event.

Patton said that currently, a schedule of events at the Cloud Livestock Facility is given to the Decatur County Prison, which sends out county inmates to clean up and re-stock the building after events. The county administrator added that a policy was needed to outline appropriate uses of the Cloud building, because another building at the County Fairgrounds which used to be rented out for parties was routinely damaged.

“There’s a lot of student groups, such as the 4-H, FFA and others, who wish to make use of the classroom and arena — they should be given the first priority for booking,” Patton said.

Rowland suggested that a usage policy could also distinguish between events that were held to make money and those that were organized or sponsored by a government or educational entity.

Commissioners asked Rowland to draw up a proposed policy, with an accompanying fee schedule, to bring back for their consideration at a future meeting.

Patton also suggested that a similar policy, perhaps without a fee, be adopted for the public meeting room at the County Administrative Offices, because he also gets requests from groups to hold meetings there.