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Primo Boxing Club Asking City Council to Forgive $23,000 in Back Rent

City of Santa Barbara already has granted a waiver of $33,760 to the nonprofit, which provides a place for teens to train and do homework after school

The Santa Barbara City Council will be asked Tuesday to forgive more than $23,000 in back rent owed to its general fund by a local nonprofit organization dedicated to helping at-risk youths.

Primo Boxing, which runs a boxing club that gives teens a place to train and do homework after school, is asking the city to forgive the amount it owes for renting an old fire station owned by the city at 701 E. Haley St.

The group has rented the building from the city for the past 18 years, but fell on hard times in 2009 when its primary fundraiser was disbanded, and has had trouble paying its rent for the past several years.

Though Primo founders Joe and Jean Pommier were able to pay all the rent owed to the city in 2010, no rent was paid in 2011 and 2012.

The rent due to the city also complicated the financial picture. Jean Pommier said the city raised rent rates but didn’t enforce the hikes, so the pair got a large bill all at once.

“I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, we can’t pay this,’” she told Noozhawk last year.

The city already has granted a waiver of $33,760 in past due rent and penalties and reduced the annual rent going forward by 50 percent to $10,000 per year, “on the expectation that the nonprofit would improve their financial ability and meet their financial obligations,” according to a city staff report.

In June, Primo’s Board of Directors submitted a revised proposal asking the city to waive the back rent owed and renew its lease. The group also sent a letter from The Fund for Santa Barbara saying that foundations had agreed to provide Primo $30,000 per year from 2013 to 2015 as well as support to help Primo become more sustainable.

The council can also vote to extend the lease for two more years.

City staff met with Primo Boxing representatives and Geoff Green, executive director of The Fund for Santa Barbara, where they agreed funding from the foundations would be dedicated to rent before other operational expenses.

“Further, it was understood and agreed that the city will not consider any further waiver of past due rents, and will immediately proceed with lease termination should rent payments not be paid in accordance with the terms of the lease,” the staff report stated.

Jean Pommier told Noozhawk on Monday that the group is excited to have worked out a deal with the city, and Primo’s financial situation looks much better because of foundation funding and a new board that will help with fundraising.

“We are really excited about the direction we are going in, and believe for the first time in years we have a chance to be sustainable,” she said.

Tuesday’s council meeting is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. at City Hall, 735 Anacapa St.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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