Bettering Plainfield with the facts since 2005

Sunday, April 12, 2015

A curious ordinance introduction on Monday

Help is on the way for hard-up organizations.

A curious item on the Plainfield City Council agenda for Monday evening caught my eye -- the introduction of MC2015-15 on first reading would amend the existing ordinance on licenses, permits and regulated activities to allow for a waiver of fees due to financial hardship (you can read the item online here, see the very last two pages).

So, it seems that a nonprofit experiencing financial difficulties of such a nature that it cannot even pay to have its nonprofit status recognized by the IRS as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization may petition the City Council for a hardship waiver.

The ordinance provides that the applicant must document that it has applied for 501(c)(3) status and "provide information reflecting the existence of its financial hardship".

If you navigate in the online city charter and ordinances to Chapter 9, Article 17 (see here), you will find an extensive list of the types of activities that must pay a license or permit fee -- everything from arcade games to wreckers. Most are obviously related to for-profit business activities.

But the only categories that suggest themselves to be eligible for the new "financial hardship" waiver include flea markets and garage sales; theater, opera house and concert events; public entertainments such a block parties, festivals, meetings or demonstrations; and shows, dances and social affairs.

The ordinance states "the waiver of municipal fees under this Chapter is may [sic] be granted only once to the entity seeking the financial hardship". The language does not make it clear, given the range of activities covered by the existing ordinance if that is a waiver once for one activity on one occasion, or a waiver to the entity for that sort of activity on an unlimited forward-going basis. Would be nice to know what the language actually means.

Perhaps the most curious part of the whole ordinance is the final clause, allowing organizations that can prove a financial hardship existed thirty (30) days before the enactment of the ordinance will be eligible for the waiver.

Customized lawmaking, at your doorstep!

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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