Casco selectmen react to booth fee in gym

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

CASCO — Citizens have been asking.

When local business owners were charged a fee of $10-per-table to rent booths at the Business Showcase held in the public gymnasium, citizens asked questions.

Some of those questions — and a better understanding of what had happened — were brought to the table when the Casco Board of Selectmen met on Tuesday night.

On Election Day, the polling place was the Casco Community Center, and the third annual business showcase was held in a space where the volume of voters would be heightened by a presidential election. At some point, organizers decided to charge $10 for each booth — to cover the cost of advertising and additional janitorial services for the event.

Selectman Ray Grant was surprised that this detail of the event did not come before the board sooner.

Although the recreation department often charges fees for sports activities, the fee charged for booths at the business showcase was new, according to Grant. Plus, it was something the board should be kept aware of — as it involves the renting of town space and funds that should be accounted for, he said.

“First of all, whatever fees, I think the board should be notified,” he said.

“Anytime someone asks me why we are charging for something, and I don’t know, it doesn’t look good. And, it doesn’t feel good to not be able to answer,” Grant said.

Shortly after that comment, acting chairman Tracy Kimball asked Grant, “Was the question: ‘Why are we charging?’ or ‘What are we doing with the money that was charged?’ ”

He responded, “Both.”

During Tuesday’s workshop, the selectmen who spoke agreed a policy was in order to set a standard for how money is received during special events.

“There should be some checks and balances.” Kimball said.

“That has to be something that we should stay on top of it. I don’t want to add more to the recreation department. But, I would want to know that it wasn’t just a group of people. I would want to know someone is in charge of that,” she said.

Casco Town Manager Dave Morton said the town’s auditor had recommended the town address these types of money-related issues.

Some of the auditing firm’s recommendations included having two people present while checks or cash are paid and receipts are being written, Morton said.

“To protect the person whose money is being collected, there (should) be two people there” during the process of taking the check or money and signing the receipt, he said.

Later in the workshop, Morton said, “We have had a practice in the past of having these events without sanction” from the board of selectmen.

Earlier, Morton said it was up to the board to determine when to require approval for an event where a fee is charged; and secondly, it was the board’s responsibility to “outline a process for accepting money for the events.”

“I am suggesting that this may be the next policy you work on,” he said.

The board members indicated that policy work would soon appear as an agenda item.

Acting Chairman Kimball said, “We need a policy. I don’t think it is our job to decide how much they should charge

Grant agreed with her, “There has to be checks and balances, and we need to approve it.”

 

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