By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes
Say goodbye to Tuesday Community Days at Keizer Community Center.
When the new city hall opened in 2009, the city contracted with an outside company to manage the facility. Those duties were brought in-house the following year and a new rental rate structure was adopted in 2011.
The rates have been the same since then, but have drawn increased scrutiny during the last couple of budget seasons. Revising the rates became a high priority in the spring since about $90,000 a year in general fund money is being used to offset losses from facility rentals.
In particular, the Tuesday Community Day discount rate – sometimes referred to as Tightwad Tuesday – has come under fire. While the intent six years ago was to allow groups to rent space in the community center for an entire day at a flat rate, state agencies were the most common users, taking advantage of the lower rates and stacking up meetings or conferences on Tuesdays. By taking advantage of those rates, that meant less revenue for the city.
“The Community Day rate is not being utilized by Keizer groups,” city recorder Tracy Davis said.
That has now been changed. A resolution approved by Keizer City Councilors on Monday eliminates the Tuesday Community Day special rates. Small rooms (1,000 square feet) will now be $25 per hour, as opposed to $15 for two hours and $15 per additional hour in the past. On Community Day, the rate was a flat $15 per day.
Medium rooms (3,000 square feet) will now be $100 per hour (up from $90 per hour and $90 per day flat rate on Tuesdays), with a 25 percent rental discount for Keizer citizens not using the room for business and a 20 percent discount for government partners. The large ballroom rate is now $250 per hour, up from $220 per hour (or $220 per day on Tuesdays), with the same discounts for Keizer citizens and government partners.
Neighborhood associations, Keizer-based youth sports organizations and town hall or community forums sponsored by local government partners will continue to have free use of space. City Manager Chris Eppley said use of the “living room” lobby area will continue to be free as well.
Davis noted it’s difficult to get true cost comparisons to similar facilities because the community center doesn’t have in-house catering like other facilities often do.
JoAnne Beilke, events coordinator at the Keizer Heritage Center next door to city hall, said she meets weekly with Kristian Bouvier, events coordinator at the Keizer Community Center, on a weekly basis.
“The cooperation has been phenomenal between us and the city,” Beilke said. “We try to cooperate and refer business to one another. It has been really helpful. She gives us referrals when you’re booked here. Kristian has done wonderful things for you people with great backing from Tracy.”
Beilke had concerns about the smaller rooms being rented for $25 an hour, both since that wouldn’t be covering costs and because it would be competing with other facilities such as hers.
“We’ve heard we do compete,” councilor Kim Freeman said. “That’s not our goal. Staff is working well and JoAnne, thank you for working with Kristian and Tracy. I like seeing the parking lot full. From a budget standpoint, we won’t make money but we have to look at the cost of staff time.”
Councilors Brandon Smith and Roland Herrera both had concerns about a suggested three- or four-hour minimum time for rentals. Beilke noted the minimum time requirement is mainly for events like wedding showers.
Smith, who was first on the council when city hall was opened, noted the history provided by Davis was helpful.
“We’ve always said this is a work in progress and we would be modifying rates as we go along,” Smith said.
Clarifications were made that examples of personal use would include baby showers and wedding parties, while non-profits seeking a discounted rate would have to be a 501(c) 3 organization. It was also added that discounts would only apply to the medium and large spaces, not the smaller rooms.
“The small rooms compete with the Keizer Heritage Center in rates,” mayor Cathy Clark said. “The small rooms will not be discounted at all for anyone, since they are already low enough to be comparable with the non-profit next door.”
Smith rejected the proposed amendment to make a four-hour amendment.
“There will be times where there is no need for three or four hours,” he said.
Councilor Amy Ripp made a motion for reinstating the discount for the small rooms, but it died due to the lack of a second.