City Council cold to Logger’s Playday fee exemption request

The Hoquiam City Council has been asked to waive the $675 fee the city charges Hoquiam Logger’s Playday to use Olympic Stadium or possibly adopt Playday as an official city event.

But council members were not too sympathetic Monday night when a letter was first presented asking the fee be waived for the city-owned facility where the annual event is held.

“I’m not interested in taking this on as a city event,” said Councilwoman Jasmine Dickhoff. “Mainly because of the high-quality show they have always been able to put on. It’s best to keep it in the hands of the people who have done it.”

The letter from Logger’s Playday Chairman Keith Burke asked the city to either consider Playday as a city-backed event or adopt a resolution exempting the Playday committee “from being charged for our use of Olympic Stadium this year and in future years.”

“Our committee does not have an issue with paying for direct services that we use … such as stadium lighting, extra police services and a community services worker used for closing up the stadium after the show,” the letter said.

City Attorney Steve Johnson noted the city only exempts charitable organizations from fees for facility usage as dictated by the state constitution.

The letter noted that several Hoquiam groups such as Rotary, Elks, Lions, the city and Hoquiam Youth, all benefit from Playday proceeds. However, council members and Johnson noted that while the group is a nonprofit organization, it doesn’t meet the strict definition of a charitable organization, which would make it eligble for an exemption.

Councilman Darrin Moir was concerned the city might have liability if it took over the event, and Dickhoff questioned if other stadium users could make the same argument to ask for free usage.

Dickhoff said there was “an undertone of threats coming from the committee” for Playday, but she urged the city to be consistent in maintaining its policy of charging fees to use Olympic Stadium and other city-owned facilities.

“I don’t appreciate threats and I don’t appreciate people encouraging us to treat them different than everyone else,” she said.

Mayor Jack Durney said he didn’t see a threat in the proposal, and the council agreed to refer the request to city staff for further study. Moir said the proposal presents some legal issues.

“If we take it on as a city, then we also could be holding the bag in a much bigger fashion than we already are now,” he said.

Moir noted that for $675, the Playday gets use of the stadium for two days.

“So it’s a great deal at that price,” he said. “… It’s $675 dollars. It’s not going to break the organization by any means.”