Prices may be going up for Griswold Auditorium rentals

Virginia Ransbottom, staff writer

A review and discussion of the rates for banquet and auditorium rentals at the city-owned Griswold Auditorium is leaning in the direction of a hike in rental rates and an end to free facility usage by nonprofits.

The need for a rental policy reared its head when Forever Curious Children’s Museum in Fennville submitted a written request in May to waive the rental free for its annual Murder Mystery Dinner Theater fundraiser for Feb. 9-10, 2018.

While the typical rental rate is $650 for the banquet facility for six hours for residents or commercial users, the non-profit rate is half off, or $325 for six hours. In the past, the council had waived the fee.

City manager Joel Dye said having a policy for nonprofits and then waiving fees set a precedence.

The council also discussed having no specifications on whether nonprofits had to be local or out-of-town to be considered.

“We don’t want to tell one nonprofit its free and another it’s not,” said council member Charles Tripp.

Council member Nancy Ingalsbee said she’d like to see something in the policy and to stick to it.

In the past, The Cabaret Band Show had worked out in-kind deals by improving the building for its free usage; however, it is now paying a reduced rate, said council member Deb Leverence.

Dye advised the council that bartering services for rent could open the city to liability.

Nonprofits are getting a break from the policy, but the Griswold still has an obligation to pay bills, said council member Mike Manning.

At the council’s June 26 pre-session meeting, council members were given a presentation by promotions coordinator Parker Johnson and promotions assistant Tammy Gorby that showed who uses the Griswold and how much they pay for its use. A few on the free list include the Red Cross, Allegan Music Club, the library, Allegan Heroes, the arts council, Allegan schools post prom, Allegan County Mental Health and “other organizations for the betterment of the community.”

Mayor pro tem Stacy Stotmeister said more than those organizations do something for the betterment of the community.

Leverence said, “We need to be consistent.”

While the Griswold’s annual expenses last year were $104,952, revenue was only $27,527, although wedding rentals have increased this year. Johnson and Gorby suggested raising the banquet facility rate from $650 to $750.

Tripp said the building was donated as a public building for public use.

“While it was built for the community, I agree on the fees,” he said. “Someone has to pay expenses but not too much to get in the way of the public being able to use it.

“I think we should charge the fees and go back to the fee chart for special arrangements and stick to it.”

Council member Patrick Morgan agreed.

“I think the pricing has room to move while keeping it affordable to the community,” he said. “There’s a gap to fill to operate it.”

No action is taken during pre-session meetings. The council intends to vote on a new policy and pricing at a later date.

Virginia Ransbottom can be contacted at or at (269) 673-5534.




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