Brackenridge church shocked by increased fee for Easter egg hunt on Highlands school property
A Brackenridge church may have to pay more to stage its annual Easter egg hunt on Highlands School District property this year, but not as much as church members were first shocked to see.
The district initially was assessing Generations House of Worship almost $5,000 in fees to use four facilities for the hunt on April 20, according to the use of facilities requests before the board for approval this month.
At a school board meeting Monday, it quickly became apparent the cost would not be that high because of the church’s non-profit status, but likely more than the church has paid in the past.
Church founder and pastor Nick Chybrzynski said his church has held the hunt at the district’s middle school the last two years. It’s free for residents to attend and participate.
Last year’s hunt featured a skydiving Easter bunny . This year’s event on April 20 is planned to include an outdoor hunt, and a special needs hunt and community fair indoors.
Each of the previous years, the church paid a $200 security deposit, Chybrzynski said.
The school district revised and updated its use of facilities policy late last year.
As presented on the use of facilities requests, Generations House of Worship 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.
School board President Debbie Beale said the 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 non-profit organizations, she said.
Beale and substitute Superintendent Monique Mawhinney said the district is now going to be closely following its policies, including the fee schedule, which Beale said wasn’t being followed.
“This fee schedule has been here for a long time,” Beale said. “We’re making sure it’s being followed from now on.”
Beale did not know how much the church will have to pay to use the facilities as a non-profit.
Following the meeting, Chybrzynski said he understands 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.
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.
Beale said following the policies and assessing the associated fees is part of the district’s budget. The district is facing a $3.7 million deficit in its $46 million preliminary 2019-20 spending plan, for which it is considering a property tax increase and closing the Highlands Support Center, formerly Fawn Primary Center.
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 marching band are not charged to use district facilities.
The school board will vote on the facilities use requests at its meeting on Monday, Feb. 18.
“This board is looking at every area where money is being spent and where it’s coming from, including the use of facilities,” Beale said. “We already have policies in place. It’s time to adhere to them.”
Brian Rittmeyer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Brian at 724-226-4701, [email protected] or via Twitter @BCRittmeyer.