Writer Upset with Council Requiring Permit Fees for Community Events

Even on Private Property!

Dear Editor,

At last Tuesday’s City Council meeting, City Manager Jim Jakel slammed the Antioch Historical Society in an attempt to make it appear the Society was asking for special exemptions to ordinances. When the planning staff attempted to explain this new ordinance was never intended to impact “Non-Profits”, only for profit commercial events, she was talked over, silenced and the vote was forced through to the detriment of every non-profit in this community.

For those of you unclear about this ordinance: The City of Antioch now wants to collect a $50.00 permit fee from ALL private property owners whenever they plan an outside event on their private property. As if the fee wasn’t enough, the property owner must also post a $500.00 refundable security and clean-up fee. This ordinance impacts all non-profits, churches, property owners associations, commercial property, etc…. So the Holy Rosary Church Fall Festival will be tagged for a $500 security deposit, as well as the Antioch Historical Society Bar-B-Q, Woman’s Club if they attempt an outdoor garage sale, any church white elephant sale in their parking lots, etc…etc…

No consideration is given to the fact the groups owns their own parking lot or grounds. None given to the fact they clean their own properties and have never used city streets or crews to clean. None given to them providing their own security on their property. And the one I love most is completely ignoring the law suits and court settlements last year when the Board of Supervisors had to pay the settlement to a private property owner for charging him permits and fees for holding outdoor political fundraisers at his own home.

The non-profits of this community are attempting to raise funds to provide the charitable services the City Government is no longer able to support or fund. These permit fees and security deposits can frequently be in excess of the profits made. Not to mention I find them to be a total violation of your private property rights as land owners.

In his attempt to discredit the objections of the Historical Society, Mr. Jakel stated the City gives them $12,000 every year. Let’s be real clear on this subject. The citizens of Antioch VOTED for the Transient (Motel) Tax for 3% to fund the Arts and History. It was a City managers decision years ago to shift that burden into the Recreation Department Budget. Two years ago seeing the economic pickel the city was in the historical society voluntarily removed the annual stipend from our budget. The Soceity has received nothing from the city in two years.

Three years ago the Council voted to provide CDBG funds (Federal money intended for community groups) to the society to improve the heating downstairs. The staff switched that to Obama funds and created such an obstacle course it took us two years just to get the heating system and we still haven’t been able to jump through all the hoops for the upgrade to the handicapped restroom. How’s that for instant community funding to enhance the economy.

The city fathers would have you believe all our economic problems are due to a 26% loss in revenue from the recession. However, I believe when we laid off the majority of our staff, we exceeded that amount in salaries saved. We no longer have a City Engineer, Head City Planner, Head Building Inspector, Assistant City Attorney, Assistant City manager, Economic Development Dept., no human resource director, deputy city clerk, only one secretary for the third floor, the City Treasurer and City clerk (both elected positions) have been cut to half time and the only full functioning department is the water department as the water funds collected are protected by law to be used by the water department only.

In 1982 we suffered a major recession with unprecedented foreclosures and bankruptcies. We did not desimate our city services to the point of being unable to provide basic services as they are today. I would suggest the loss of city services has more to do with a management style than with the loss of revenue from builders. When the City Manager’s answer to his budget is to create ordinances against the non-profits and private properties owners in the community, then the problem is clearly him and his management style, not the recession.

Time for the council to seek an interim manager steeped in financial background if they ever expect the threat of bankruptcy to leave the chambers. Time for a progressive individual that sees a future for us. Mr Jakel’s first department to dissolve was the neighborhood improvement department that was bringing money into the city. Wake up Council. It’s almost too late.

Elizabeth Rimbault, former Antioch Mayor Pro Tem

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