The conference center at the Keizer Civic Center has been a success and it operates as it was designed.
Mayor Lore Christopher and other city leaders envisioned the conference center to be a space to be used both for community organizations to use and as a generator of revenue from other groups.
This week the city council approved waivers of rental fees for two non-profit groups on Saturday nights in March and April. The civic center was built with taxpayer money so it is right to offer waivers for local, Keizer-based non-profit organizations. When waivers are given, the renting organizations usually pay for city employees to staff the rooms during the event, security and cleaning deposits.
Non-profit organizations do good works in the community and should get some fee relief, yet when they book a Saturday it blocks a potential full-price renter. Though it is a public community conference center it should be able to generate enough revenue to pay its own way.
The city will be addressing the rate schedule again for the conference center in the near future. The current rates allow for any group to book a room at the confererence center for $15 for Tuesday’s public days. Unfortunately there have been some non-community groups that have been allowed to take advantage of the public day fee.
Who should be eligible for the $15 community rate on Tuesdays? It should be limited to Keizer-based non-profit organizations, such as youth sports groups and churches. Government agencies and for-profit businesses and groups should not be eligible for the reduced fee.
Many community events are booked for the conference center on Saturday nights. Fees are waived for many of these—the Keizer Chamber Banquet, the McNary Fine Arts Madrigal Dinner, Keizer Young Life event to name a few. Instead of a Saturday night (when another customer could be paying the full rental rate) some of these groups could opt for a Monday or a Friday night. Keizer is generally not a late night kind of town—the streets are quiet after 9 p.m., so having a community event on a Monday or a Friday would be a good alternative.
Many families are busy on Saturday nights either with other plans or out of the town. Attendance at community events could actually be healthier if held on a night other than a Saturday; most of the community events rarely run past 10 p.m. If a community group books the conference center on a night other than Saturday they should then be eligible for full waivers.
Though the conference center is a public space the city should get as much revenue from it as it can. The city can tinker with the rates and waivers, they should also be proactive in persudaing community groups to choose nights that are historically not rented.