City, Rotary at impasse over rent

An issue of room rental is putting the city at odds with one of its most longstanding nonprofit groups. 

In a letter to the Keizer City Council, the president of the Rotary Club of Keizer, AJ Nash, and the president of the Keizer Rotary Foundation, Marc Adams, take the city to task over its insistence that it pay more to continue weekly usage of a conference room in the Keizer Civic Center. 

“In the design phase, the Community Center was never intended to be a money-making enterprise for the city, and yet we find today it is … and sadly, it seems, making money is the first priority,” the letter reads. Since the civic center opened, Rotary members have used a dedicated room inside the facility to host weekly meetings. Rotary donated $100,000 toward the initial investment in the community center, money that was used to purchase furnishings like tables and chairs. 

The letter states that the investment was never intended as rent, but “pledged and paid as an investment in … [a] center that was built FIRST (sic) for the benefit of every non-profit group in the city.”

The Rotarians point out that the civic center now caters more to government agencies that reserve spaces at a discount, many with only tangential connections to Keizer. 

Rotary has been allowed to use a conference room since the building opened without further payment toward rental. 

Moving forward, the city wants Rotary to pay $10,000 a year for continued weekly use and the stipulation that the group can be “bumped” up to four times a year when other groups pay for space. The agreement would be good for five years. 

Rotary’s counteroffer is a 10-year agreement to commit no less than $10,000 a year into Keizer community projects of its choosing as well as 700 “verifiable volunteer hours” in the city.

The letter claims representatives from the city signaled that past Rotary projects fell into the category of “wants” more than “needs.” In the letter, Nash and Adams contend the same thing regarding a community center that serves purposes beyond offices for city employees and the police department. 

“We do not believe we are properly using the funds entrusted to us by paying rent to the city for improvements … which now primarily benefit other government agencies,” the letter states. 

The Keizer City Council acknowledged receiving of the letter at its meeting Monday, May 6, and it will discussion will return as an agenda item at its meeting on May 20.