The Lompoc Family YMCA will likely see significant cost savings this year, thanks to the Lompoc City Council agreeing Tuesday night to waive the organization’s rent for all of 2020.
The City Council voted 4-0 — Councilman Dirk Starbuck recused himself, as he owns property near the YMCA — to approve the request from the YMCA, which reported major revenue losses after closing its doors in mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under the current lease agreement between the YMCA, which owns its building, and the city of Lompoc, which owns the land the building sits on, the YMCA pays the city $568 per month in rent. Along with having those payments waived for the remainder of the year, the YMCA also will be refunded the payments it had already made from January through July.
While Tuesday’s move is expected to provide the YMCA with financial relief during the coronavirus outbreak, the discussion could potentially lead to even greater savings for the organization in the years ahead.
The City Council mostly limited its YMCA discussion on Tuesday night to the rent waiver, as that was the request included on the night’s agenda. The YMCA, however, made other appeals to the city that are slated to be brought back for discussion at future meetings.
Among those, the YMCA is asking that its rent be dropped to $1 per year for the remainder of the lease agreement, which is in effect through 2028.
“This request is comparable to other nonprofit organizations in the city,” said Tommy Speidel, the Lompoc Family YMCA's executive director.
Speidel listed the Lompoc Museum and Lompoc Art Association as examples of nonprofits with $1 annual leases with the city, but those agreements were not immediately verified.
Further, YMCA leaders requested that the YMCA receive a monthly credit on its utility bills as a way to offset the costs the YMCA incurs for landscaping and grounds maintenance. According to the YMCA’s lease with the city, those duties were supposed to be performed by city workers. With the city short-staffed in recent years, though, the YMCA began contracting its own landscape services.
Those costs add up to $250 to $500 per month, Speidel said.
Lucy Thoms-Harrington, a longtime YMCA supporter and the Lompoc Chamber’s 2019 selection for Lompoc Valley Woman of the Year, said the requests from the YMCA had her complete support.
“I’ve seen the direct impact [of the YMCA] to youth, to families and to seniors in our community,” she said. “Our daughter attended an after-school program at Los Berros [elementary school] and it shaped her life. She found friends, she saw how giving communities act toward one another, and it’s made a difference in all of our lives.”
Councilwoman Gilda Cordova acknowledged early in Tuesday’s discussion that she was a member of the Lompoc Family YMCA’s board of directors. City Attorney Jeff Malawy said Cordova didn’t need to recuse herself since she did not have a financial stake in the organization.
Mayor Jenelle Osborne, who made the motion that ultimately passed, included a stipulation that the YMCA’s other requests be brought back at a later date for discussion. Whenever that discussion occurs, it is expected that city staff will have prepared a report about how the suggested lease amendments could impact the city’s general fund.
Speidel suggested the requests, if approved, could go a long way toward helping the Lompoc Family YMCA — which is part of the Channel Islands YMCA system — maintain its services.
“Our hope is with these changes we’ll be able to refocus our financial resources on serving youth and families in the Lompoc community,” he said.
Willis Jacobson covers the city of Lompoc. Follow him on Twitter @WJacobsonLR.
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