The mayor also told councilors he does not believe they have the legal authority to waive building fees for any group. “It would be like waiving taxes,” he said.
Before Fuller withdrew her request, councilors debated the matter and what they could do to make sure they have the ability to waive building fees in the future.
City Councilor William Ryan argued in favor of approving the YMCA request.
“This is the one time they came asking the city of Haverhill to help them and we should pony up,” Ryan said, suggesting YMCA might not finish the renovation without the city subsidy. “They might say, why bother?”
Ryan also said the council should fight for the right to use its “discretion” to waive building fees. He said he would support waiving building fees for some nonprofits, for instance, but oppose doing so for others such as Zion Bible College.
Councilor Mary Ellen Daly O’Brien said the council was “a little discourteous” to Fuller when the matter first came up two weeks ago. “She deserves better,” Daly O’Brien said of Fuller. “She does so much for the community.”
Other councilors insisted they were correct to question and delay action on the request until they received accurate and verifiable information about the exact amount of the building fees.
Councilor William Macek said he agreed with those who wanted to help the YMCA, but that he had concerns over the council’s legal authority to waive the fees. He proposed postponing the matter again, until that question could be definitively answered. At that point, Fuller stepped to the podium to rescind the request.
Fiorentini and Fuller then shook hands. The mayor went on to say he would look for more grants and possibly other city money that could be used to help YMCA with Wadleigh House.