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Rendezvous takes issue over pavilion charges

Rendezvous takes issue over pavilion charges Rendezvous takes issue over pavilion charges

“We heard that you guys were wanting to charge for us to rent the (Mill Yard Park) pavilion,” said Hope Jones, Chippewa River Rendezvous member. “In our budget, we don’t have enough to be able to pay that and put on a large event.”

Jones addressed the Cornell City Council during a regular meeting June 4, after new agreements were put in place, charging for-profit and non-profit organizations $40/day, plus a $40 deposit, for the use of the Mill Yard pavilion.

Jones says the Rendezvous Days historical event brings the past to the present, to teach this generation and give them a chance to see living history in person. The August event is free to the public to attend the demonstrations, along with free parking, free raffles and drawings for all ages.

There is also a flea market with items available for purchase, and games for kids and adults, while non-profit organizations offer a lunch for sale. Spread across the Mill Yard area, are camps re-enacting life in the days of rendezvous.

“They (re-enactors) don’t expect to be paid to do these demonstrations,” said Jones. “They don’t expect anything from it, except for the public to watch them do it to learn something.”

There are also demonstrations the public can take part in, such as a hawk/knife throw, archery and fry pan toss. There is a candy cannon for kids and a hay pile search for all ages.

“If you look at our profit we do, we don’t get a whole lot of donations,” said Jones.

The Rendezvous raises funds to pay for the event through brat stands, but with those cut down because of a decree from the health department last year, that means the group has reduced the kids’ bikes and prizes given away at the Rendezvous.

“It’s just been condensing down slowly,” said Jones.

Raffle ticket sales are another way to make money, but Jones says it’s unusual if the group sells all 500 books that are printed each year. The flea market does bring in vendor fees, as well as the weekly fees for the farmers market during the summer.

Farmers market vendors are charged $25 for a 15-week season, which is free for the public to attend.

“They’re (vendors) not really making a lot either, because this is a small town, so you can’t really expect a lot of public,” said Jones.

After buying kayaks, guns and packaged meat from a locker, as well as supplying cash prizes, the Rendezvous group also has to pay for advertising, raffle license, insurance, their storage unit and registering as a tax exempt organization. Additional expenses include a porta potty, ice for the re-enactors’ camps and meals.

“What were your total expenses for 2019?” asked council president Steve Turany.

Jones said the group spent $8,578.17 last year.

“What was your total revenue for 2019?” Turany asked.

Last year, Jones says the group brought in $11,216.12, which left $2,637.95 left to put toward the beginning of the next year’s expenses that may come up before they start selling raffle tickets.

“I don’t want to charge our camps,” said Jones, adding a plea that the council waive the pavilion fee for the Rendezvous organization. “I really don’t want to charge our public to come in to see this historical event.”

“I have a discrepancy with this,” said council member Ashley Carothers of the documentation Jones provided. “It does not mean you are non-profit, it simply means you are a small tax exempt organization that grosses less than $50,000 a year.”

Carothers said in regard to “making” Rendezvous pay for the pavilion, she said the agreements were fine-tuned with ease of rental in mind and to be fair to taxpayers.

“This isn’t just about Rendezvous Days, it isn’t just about farmers market, it isn’t just about one organization,” said Carothers.

She said when she first got on council, a taxpayer questioned Carothers if certain organizations paid for use of the pavilion. Carothers didn’t know the answer, so she started working on an agreement so that everyone would pay, regardless of non-profit status.

Carothers also said if someone feels it’s not right their organization should pay to rent the pavilion, they can come before the council to ask for a variance.

However, Carothers wasn’t finished there. She stated that since July 22, she has documented that Jones stated over social media, that the council, Carothers and city administrator Dave DeJongh, were trying to shut down the Rendezvous, and that they had contacted the health department with a complaint against the Rendezvous group.

“The allegations that had come before, and on me and Dave, and this council, are extremely unfair,” said Carothers. “It is not right. You want to post all these things on a public forum…and spread your lies and your slanderous remarks, you go right ahead, but you are going to reap the repercussions of that.

“As far as Rendezvous Days, I am a huge supporter in anything educational.”

Carothers says she wants to see the event continue and made a recommendation that the council consider lowering the fee for the group, providing proof of non-profit status. Carothers said if the Rendezvous can’t receive non-profit status, she would still recommend working to lower the fee.

“If you guys have an issue trying to get a non-profit status or getting the paperwork, let me know,” said Carothers. “I can certainly help you get that.”

Council member Aimee Korger said she’d like to see the matter moved toward the Finance Committee to decide. That meeting should be scheduled before the next council meeting June 18, prior to the regular meeting at 7 p.m.

Mayor Mark Larson said there are many opportunities to speak before the council and encouraged anyone to address any concerns they may have.

“We are not trying to take anyone down by any means, that’s not what we’re doing and I don’t want anyone to think that,” said Carothers. “I don’t want this to continue this way.”