A debate over the rental of the Pleasureville City Hall basement continued Monday night, ending with the city commission voting 2-1 to allow caterer Gary Grigsby to pay $100 per month.
Mayor Rodney Young said he spoke with Grigsby, who rented the space previously, and that the caterer asked to rent the basement for $100 per month.
Young justified the rental price — $50 lower than what Grigsby previously paid — saying that “about once a week, he has to come up and clean. You’ve got to clean every so often.”
City Clerk Verna Stivers justified the amount because of the location.
“When he was here before, he paid $150,” she said. “After really thinking about it, that’s not a prime location, being in the basement. And I think $100 is fair for what we charged the other tenants in this building.”
Stivers also presented another reason for the reduced rent when Commissioner Diane Perry asked a pointed question — if the city rented the basement to Grigsby for $150 before, why not now?
“Because he won’t be in there as much,” Stivers said.
Perry was nonplussed.
“That’s his choice,” she said. “If he doesn’t want to cater, that’s his choice. If he wants to do 30 jobs a month, that’s his choice.”
Perry, a small business owner, said Grigsby can control how much money he makes. “If I choose to close, that’s my fault,” she said. “If I choose to stay open. He can control how much money he makes.”
Stivers again countered, saying Grigsby wouldn’t “be down there as much as he was before.
“That’s not our fault, that’s not our problem,” Perry said.
Young argued that the $1,200 per year that would be generated by Grigsby’s $100 per month rental would be better than nothing.
After the commission voted 2-1 on commissioner Vic Harrod’s motion to rent the basement to Grigsby for $100 per month, Stivers asked a series of pointed questions directed at city attorney Bill Brammell.
“Since the minutes were approved in April where we had discussed renting it for the $25… will the minutes have to be amended?” she asked. She later asked if, since the minutes for a $25 rate were approved, and “two to three months later, it’s brought up that they want more money for rent and two or three months later, are we going to raise the rent again?”
Because the commission voted on a new contract, Brammell said, the previous minutes no longer apply. But in the absence of a lease, the city could change the rent at any time — with 30-days notice — if it chooses.
“This is a question, an issue I’ve mentioned several times, and I understand why the city does what it does, and that’s fine,” he said. “Cities are not designed to be in the business of having rental properties… it’s just not a primary city function, to be a landlord.”
Harrod’s motion was, essentially, an agreement for a month-to-month lease, and the commission made no decision on a longer term arrangement.