City should waive fees for nonprofits

Published 2:44 pm Wednesday, November 25, 2009

To the editor:

I enjoyed the editorial in your Nov. 17 edition, “Have some fun and support the community.” It is a “wonderful thing” that Suffolk has such a variety of community events, most of which raise funds for many worthy causes. I extend my thanks to the many hardworking citizens who plan and implement these programs, all in an effort to make Suffolk a great place to live and to demonstrate our desire to make life better for everyone.

It is a shame that the city of Suffolk wants a larger and larger share, before the event even takes place.

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For example, some fundraisers require an event permit. If you want to put up signs to advertise the event, you must get a temporary sign permit. If vendors are part of the fundraiser, they are required to get a vendor or business license, even if the event is only for one day. Depending on the food served and by whom, that may require a visit to the Health Department for another permit. If you are holding the event on city property, you will need a facility use permit.

Needless to say, all of these permits and licenses come with a fee. And if that’s not bad enough, you have to go to several different City offices to acquire your folder full of forms and receipts.

Would it not be better if all the funds raised were used as intended by those working so hard to put these events together? Typically, these events have little to no financial impact on city services (when they do, fees to the city are understandable). Plus, much of what is raised goes back into the community, to provide services that the city ultimately would have to pay for.

I fear that some fundraising events will be discontinued as the net profit, after paying all these fees, will not justify the effort. Not only will worthy causes lose much-needed donations, we will lose the opportunity to gather with our friends and neighbors.

Linda G. Bunch