Surfside Beach gives initial approval to facility rental fee hike

The cost of renting facility space in Surfside Beach is likely going up.

Town Council on Tuesday voted 7-0 to increase fees for use of the Dick M. Johnson Civic Center and the Floral Club House. The ordinance requires a second vote, expected at the end of the month.

The move is the latest in a series of efforts to increase revenue and cover the town’s operational costs including a 6.22 mill tax increase. Surfside Beach also took a step towards annexing commercial properties last month that if successful would expand town limits to include businesses along Frontage Road up to Spring Avenue adding to the coffers with business licenses and permits.

Recreation supervisor Debbie Ellis said 11 groups use the civic center for 118 hours a week free of charge with no fees to help pay for utilities, insurance, cleaning and supplies.

Fees as initially proposed would charge nonprofit groups $25 per day and weekly groups and organizations $50 per day. During discussion, Councilman David Pellegrino suggested a successful amendment to charge nonprofits $15 per day instead of $25.

Ruth Fain lives in Surfside Beach and is president of a sewing group that meets once a month at the civic center. She said she understands the town’s position, but said it would be difficult for her organization to pay for the space.

“For a very small, non-profit that only meets once a month, $25 is like all the money we ever had in the whole world,” she said.

Councilman Ralph Magliette said the $25 daily fee could be excessive and asked if an hourly rate could be created for non-profit organizations.

Ellis said many of those groups use the space for more than an hour and said a hourly rate could be more expensive than the $25 fee. The council didn’t pursue an hourly rate.

Fees for one-time rentals of a large room at the Civic Center would cost $75 while a small room would cost $50.

Renting a room at the Floral Club House also would cost $50.

Instructional groups meeting in town facilities would purchase the required business license and pay the town 10 percent of the monthly income.