Glenarden may have missed out on thousands of dollars in rental fees for the Gold Room at the James R. Cousins Jr. Municipal Center over the past eight months, city staff and officials said.
The Glenarden City Council voted 4-3 Monday night to pass a resolution requiring an audit of the city’s Gold Room rentals in light of reports of groups being undercharged for rental of the venue.
In May, the Glenarden City Council voted to raise its rental rates for the Gold Room from around $1,800 to $2,000 for nighttime events and from about $1,200 to $1,500 for day and evening events. But City Manager Debi Sandlin, who took the position in October, discovered that some contracts for rental of the venue were still using the old fee schedule.
“We’ve had substantial turnover, not only in the city manager’s position but also with the treasurer and some staff members,” Sandlin said. “During all of this, not everyone had all the information that was needed regarding the processes involved when you’re renting the Gold Room for an event.”
Sandlin said since taking over the city manager’s position, she has already installed some better internal controls to ensure the proper fees are assessed on future rental contracts.
Councilwoman Jennifer Jenkins (Ward 3), who wrote the audit legislation, said that while she supports an audit to make sure all contracts are accounted for as well as to firm up internal controls on the process going forward, groups who have already signed contracts should not be forced to pay for the city’s mistake.
“Let’s say you booked the hall back in June  for your wedding this April,” Jenkins said. “Now we come and say, ‘You didn’t pay enough,’ and you’re already over budget on the wedding. Your position would be, ‘But I signed a contract.’...I just don’t think I’d want to be treated that way.”
Councilman James A. Herring (Ward 1) said he thinks any audit of the Gold Room should be done internally by the city manager and treasurer. But he said he thinks the city should seek to recoup lost money from anybody who was charged for a cheaper grade of event, like being charged for a daytime private affair instead of a evening cabaret.
“The Gold Room is supposed to help fund services for our citizens,” Herring said. “Every dollar we give away is a dollar we can’t use to help our citizens.”
The completed audit is due to the City Council by March 1. Once the audit has been completed, the council will discuss potential improvements on the rental process as well as possibly recouping some of the lost money, council members said.