Brackenridge church sees increased fee for Easter egg hunt on Highlands property
It’s going to cost a Brackenridge church a lot more to use Highlands School District facilities for its annual Easter egg hunt, but not as much as church members first thought.
Generations House of Worship, which is planning its third egg hunt at the district’s middle school, initially thought it would have to pay almost $5,000 to hold the event on district property, but now is looking at a bill of about $2,000, according to the church’s pastor.
Still, that’s almost 10 times what the church paid to hold the event in the same location the past two years.
School officials, grappling with a $3.7 million deficit for next school year’s budget, say adherence to already existing rules is what’s causing the increased costs for the church.
“This board is looking at every area where money is being spent and where it’s coming from, including the use of facilities,” said school board President Debbie Beale. “We already have policies in place. It’s time to adhere to them.”
The school district revised and updated its use of facilities policy late last year. Some of those fees increased, but school officials said the biggest problem is the fees haven’t been applied uniformly across all groups using district property.
Fees for requests to use district facilities in February range from $50 for Highlands Little League to use the community center for registration to $500 for the league to use the varsity baseball field for the season.
Some groups, such as Lady Rams basketball boosters, Forbes Road Career & Technology Center and the district’s marching band are not charged to use district facilities, according to district records.
Beale and substitute Superintendent Monique Mawhinney said the district now is going to closely follow its policies, including the fee schedule.
“This fee schedule has been here for a long time,” Beale said. “We’re making sure it’s being followed from now on.”
For the Generations Easter Egg hunt, that meant the church initially was facing a total of $4,700 in fees to use the district’s stadium, gym, soccer field and parking lot. It consisted of a $2,750 facility use fee, a $750 maintenance fee, $600 for personnel/custodian and $600 for security.
That was before the church verified its nonprofit status.
According to church founder and pastor Nick Chybrzynski, the church will have to pay a $1,900 security deposit, of which it would get $600 back. He is hoping to get the remaining $1,300 fee further reduced. District officials said they could not yet confirm the fees that would be charged to the church.
Beale said the initial fees were assessed because the church had not submitted all of its paperwork, most notably its tax-exempt status.
Fee schedules are different for for-profit and nonprofit organizations, she said.
Chybrzynski, the brother of Highlands School Board member Misty Chybrzynski, said his church held the hunt at the district’s middle school the past two years. It’s free for residents to attend and participate.
“We make no money on it at all,” Nick Chybrzynski said.
Last year’s hunt featured a skydiving Easter bunny. This year’s event, on April 20, is planned to include an outdoor Easter egg hunt, a special needs hunt and a community fair indoors.
Any cost charged by the district cuts into the church’s ability to hold the event, for which the church already spends thousands of dollars, Chybrzynski said.
Each of the previous years, the church paid a $200 security deposit, Chybrzynski said.
The school board will vote on facilities use requests at its meeting on Monday.
Brian C. Rittmeyer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Brian at 724-226-4701, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .