You Can’t Make This Up: Donate a park bench to Newport, pay a fee

You Can’t Make This Up: Donate a park bench to Newport, pay a fee

They’ve got a $263 million budget, $100 million in reserves, a $130 million city hall under construction, want 20% of the gross from the marina owners, tripled mooring fees … now they want to nick the nice folks of Newport that donate things to the city for a “maintenance fee.”

The council Tuesday approved new fee for donors amounting to 10 percent of the item’s value.

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By JOSH FRANCIS / FOR THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

NEWPORT BEACH – If you’re planning to donate a park bench or playground equipment to the city, get ready to pay a fee.

The City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to approve the new fee, which was recommendation by the city’s Parks, Beaches and Recreation Commission as a way to pay for maintenance costs associated with donated items.

Article Tab: image1-Donate a park bench to Newport, pay a fee

A person who donates an item to a city park or beach will now pay a 10 percent fee based on the item’s value, officials said. If someone plans to donate a $1,000 bench, for example, they will now be required to tack on an additional $100 for the fee.

“We have a long list of people who want to donate,” Mark Harmon, director of the city’s Municipal Operations Department, said before the meeting. “I don’t think the fee will keep someone from donating.”

Many of the items donated to the city are benches, trees and playground equipment, he said. A large number of the benches donated tend to be “memorial benches” that family members donate to honor a lost relative, he said.

Harmon said he understood that the fees may appear to dissuade people from donating but said the city really just wants to ensure the item is maintained.

According to a Corona Del Mar Today report, the city’s Planning Commission was discussing a possible five-year renewal and fees of around $200 for maintenance. That plan as well as a plan to charge fees for items already donated to the city was scrapped and replaced by the percentage plan approved Tuesday.

The report also said that items that have already been donated to the city will not be affected by these fees.

Harmon said the city has a very long list of donations, some of which aren’t accepted because of a lack of space. He said the Parks, Beaches and Recreation Commission’s goal is to maintain the life of donated items.

The city now pays for the maintenance of donated items, Harmon said. However, he said he was unable to provide specific maintenance costs for donated items because those are factored in to the department’s overall budget

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