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Afton City Council won't waive fees for AABA

Afton City Council discussed its fee schedule during a workshop on Feb. 7.

The discussion centered on whether the city should waive the Town Square Park rental fee for the Area Business Association's events since the city has waived the fee for Historical Society events.

The AABA made the request on the grounds that it is a nonprofit.

"But I've looked at their website and it doesn't say anywhere that they are a nonprofit," Mayor Pat Snyder.

The current park rental fee is $100/day.

The AABA typically rents the park for two annual events - Afton Art in the Park and what was once the Afton May Fair.

This year however, the AABA will be partnering with Memorial Lutheran Church for its Strawberry Festival event.

Council Member Bill Palmquist said he would be in support of waiving the rental fee because the AABA helps promote the city through its events.

"There is a benefit to everybody," he said.

Snyder said she has a difficult time seeing the organization as a nonprofit since it charges nonprofit organizations to have booths at its events.

"I could consider waiving the fees if they have a minimum of nonprofits in attendance that are not charged," she said. "I think we could tie it into nonprofit that way."

Council Member Joe Richter said he does not view the AABA as a nonprofit, as opposed to the AHS.

"Even though their representation is nonprofit," he said, "they are representing businesses that are there to make money."

Deputy Clerk Kim Swanson Linner said if the city would waive the rental fees, it makes it more difficult for staff.

"If you start piece-mealing and making exceptions it makes it very difficult to administer," she said. "Plus, where do we stand if there's damage to the park?

"Council has set up park reservations for a reason."

Ultimately City Council decided not to create a policy for AABA and the waiver of rental fees, and rather decided to review requests on a case-by-case basis.

"We provide the park, we maintain it," Snyder said, "I think $200 to have a money-raising event is minimal."

Other fees

City Council also reviewed several of its other fees during the workshop.

Currently the escrow amount for an administrative permit is $1,000, but the city decided to lower that to $600 since that is the current fee for a conditional-use permit.

"There isn't any sense to have the administrative permit cost more than a CUP," City Administrator Ron Moorse said.

City Council also agreed to increase its liquor license fee, which is currently $1,000, by $200 in hopes of better aligning Afton with neighboring communities.

Bayport and Newport have liquor license fees of $2,500 and Stillwater has a fee of $2,800.

The liquor license fee will continue to increase by $200 every year until it more closely aligns.

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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