Columbia County eyes rental fee increase

Anyone planning to rent Columbia County’s larger facilities this year might be facing a price increase – and that includes charities holding fundraiser races.

Commissioners in the Community and Emergency Services Committee meeting gave initial approval Tuesday to a plan to raise the fees for renting the Jabez Sanford Hardin Performing Arts Center and Savannah Rapids Pavilion, along with the small meeting rooms that make up part of each complex.

Those fees haven’t changed since 2008, said Barry Smith, the county’s Comm­unity and Leisure Services Division director, and a market survey indicates the rates are less than that charged by some similar rentals in the area.

“Considering other facilities of this same size, we feel like these changes are in line,” Smith said.

The fee increase wouldn’t just hit meetings and banquets. For the first time, the county will charge organizations $100 for use of the park at Savannah Rapids for conducting fundraising runs. The site is popular with charities staging 5K races on the Augusta Canal towpath, including the upcoming Strength for Sawyer 5K set for March 9 and the Beautiful Fee 5K scheduled for March 23.

That fee would go into effect immediately if approved by the full commission at second reading Feb. 18.

Other changes would raise the cost of renting all of Savannah Rapids Pavilion to $3,000 for 14 hours, up from $2,700 for what now is a 12-hour rental, while the cost for renting the ballroom would increase to $2,250, also with two extra hours.

Cost for renting the Performing Arts Center, a nearly 300-seat theater and four meeting rooms inside the Columbia County Library in Evans, would increase by $50 to $400 for five hours Sunday-Thursday, and by $75 to $425 for the full day. Friday and Saturday rentals would have similar increases.

Facility rentals used for comparison ranged from $900 for the Old Government House in Augusta, to $1,650 for the Kroc Center banquet hall, to $5,800 for Rose Hill Estate in Aiken.

 

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