NBC school board approves facility-usage fee policy

Northern Burlington Regional School Board decides to charge outside community groups for use of school facilities.

By: Eve Collins
   MANSFIELD — Members of the Northern Burlington County Regional School Board on Monday unanimously adopted the policy that will be used to charge outside community groups facility-usage fees.
   Out of a handful of residents that attended the meeting, only one, Ernest DuBay of Mansfield, protested the policy during the public comment portion of the meeting.
   "Why should they charge groups for the facilities," Mr. DuBay said after the meeting. "No one should be charged." Mr. DuBay is not a member of a community group that uses the facilities, but he said he believes taxpayers should not be charged.
   This spring the board decided to continue the district’s current policy requiring outside groups to pay $100 for the use of athletic fields on school grounds. A board policy has always permitted it to charge usage fees on other facilities, officials have said, but the district has never done so.
   In the fee schedule, groups are broken down into three classes, with some charged a usage fee and a service fee, depending on the organization.
   Class I is made up of groups affiliated with the school, such as a parent-teacher organization, which could use the facility it needs at no cost.
   Next, Class II groups, including community fund-raising groups who may need a facility for just a few hours, would be given a discounted rate. They would only be charged the service fee that would cover energy costs, officials have said.
   Finally, other organizations that use the district’s facilities often would be charged both the usage and service fees.
   Officials have said that charges will be determined on a case-by-case basis. For example, at the meeting the board approved the Northern Burlington Allstars and the Northern Burlington Soccer Club for use of athletic fields. Both teams are Class II users, but the Allstars will be charged $80 and the Soccer Club will pay $440
   The change in policy comes as a result of the defeat of the proposed $27.9 million budget in April and subsequent cuts recommended by township officials. District officials needed to consider generating revenue other ways, officials have said.
   Representatives of the governing bodies from the four sending districts voted in May to cut the budget by $428,750, reducing the school tax rate increase by 3.5 cents. The district serves middle and high school students from Chesterfield, Mansfield, North Hanover and Springfield townships.