Editorial: Community events require community support
A community that is close-knit is generally one that survives if not thrives.
That’s not just everyone knowing each other’s names. It doesn’t have to have a “Cheers” corner bar or a Mayberry sheriff. It doesn’t have to be a sitcom with pies cooling on the windowsill and kids engaged in neighborhood high jinks solved in half an hour over the backyard fence.
Close can be real, but it has to be supportive.
The district has every right to charge for use of its property. There is no debate there.
The district certainly has to evaluate its income as it is investigating how it will handle a $3.7 million budget deficit moving forward, and tweaking certain programs and permissions does make sense.
But an almost 10-times increase in the fee the church has previously paid seems excessive. Taxpayers would no doubt balk if their bill had an extra zero tacked onto the end.
The district did, admittedly, lower that cost by a couple thousand dollars after the church confirmed its nonprofit status, and the fees the district is charging are part of a schedule the school board says has not been enforced and needs to be.
It just seems like the sudden jump is something that could be handled in a more supportive way for both the church and the community that would participate in the event. There has to be a way for the two parties to work together to find a way that would cost them both as little as possible.
The district shouldn’t have to pay to clean up after the event, for example. Church volunteers might be able to provide labor instead of some of the fees. Support, after all, can cut both ways.
But driving up the cost of a church putting on a community event that is largely for children and families just seems like it hurts the very group a school is there to uplift.
Finding more ways to do more things to make a community come together might do more than just support the church. It might make the Highlands area a place that doesn’t just survive. It could thrive.