Idaho Center needs more money
Nampa City Council considers parking fees and charges for events that have been freeNAMPA — The next time you visit the Idaho Center you may have to add parking to your expenses. And the next time you go to a community event at the facility, such as a high school graduation, you could pay for that, too. Why charge fees? The private company that runs the Idaho Center, which is owned by the city, asked Nampa for $965,000 to help operate the facility next fiscal year. That’s up from $600,000 this year because, Nampa finance director Vikki Chandler said, the Idaho Center has run out of old urban renewal district reserve funds. The company, SMG, suggested charging parking fees and offsetting the cost of community events that don’t raise as much revenue as other events. While 42 percent of the Idaho Center’s attendance is for community events, those events bring in only 1 percent of the facility’s revenue, Idaho Center General Manager Craig Baltzer said. SMG recommended the city approve ways they can raise about $200,000. At a city budget workshop Tuesday two council members said they want to look into the possibility of parking fees at some Idaho Center events. Council members also said charging $1 or $2 admission to previously free events could help raise money. City leaders did not identify a potential parking fee. “Even a nominal (parking) fee would bring in a lot of money,” Mayor Tom Dale said. Nampa’s contribution to the Idaho Center was $500,000 in 2010 and $400,000 in 2009. What city leaders said about fees “It’s time we shift gears and raise revenue off community events,” council member Stephen Kren said. Dale said many entertainment venues in the Treasure Valley already charge parking fees. Council member Curtis Homer said he is not against parking fees at the Idaho Center. But council member Martin Thorne warned that extra costs could deter people from attending Idaho Center events. “The reputation is that the Idaho Center is the most user-friendly event center in the Valley,” Thorne said. How would parking be charged? A per-vehicle parking fee could be added to ticket prices, Dale said. That could cut down on Idaho Center traffic by getting visitors to use fewer vehicles to attend events, Police Chief Bill Augsburger said. City leaders have talked about charging parking fees at the Idaho Center for years, Chandler, said. But previously councils were reluctant to implement the fees, she said.