Lott expects resistance to Civic Center rates - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Lott expects resistance to Civic Center rates

September 18, 2007

Albany -- The Albany James H. Gray Civic Center has been a financial drain on the city since it opened in 1983.

City commissioners recently called on the city manager to find a way to help reduce the drain on the budget. Al Lott responded by raising fees, but now that's been met with complaints. So what is the solution?

When new rates were rolled out for the Albany Civic Center on July 1st. It scared some folks-- and some events-- from the arena.

"I expect there will be resistance to a 10%, 20%, 25% adjustment to the rates, because in experience in this area is, folks don't want to pay any more money," said City Manager Al Lott.

Especially when they've been paying the same rates year after year. Since 1987, rental fees for equipment have been the same price. In July that changed.

Quail Unlimited decided that for the first time in almost 20 years, they wouldn't be coming to the Civic Center. They called the price increases sticker shock.

City Manager Al Lott calls the changes being fiscally responsible. "We are trying to recoup the money of the residents. I think people want us to try to get some of their money back," Lott said.

And slowly but surely the amount the Civic Center loses each year is shrinking, and Director John Mazzola says even though the Civic Center wasn't designed to make money... he doesn't want to see it falling deeper into a hole.

"As a city employee, I don't feel that it's appropriate to add to the deficit if within my purview there are ways for me to off-set those expenses, and unfortunately, that means the users will need to pay for the services that they require of our city," Mazzola said.

So the tax payers don't have to shell out any more of their money.

The city manager and civic center director plan to write a new policy regarding all civic center and municipal auditorium rentals.

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