Renting Slidell Municipal Auditorium will cost less if the Slidell City Council votes Tuesday to adopt a new fee schedule that cuts prices and allows groups to pay based on the duration of their use, rather than charging everyone for a 12-hour rental.
City officials hope the reduced rates will result in higher usage of the facility, which was built on the site of the former auditorium that was flooded during Hurricane Katrina.
Slidell has graduated rates for different types of renters.
It charges the least to nonprofit organizations with a 501(c)(3) federal tax designation. The rates climb from there, with nonprofit corporations that are not charitable paying the second-lowest amount, followed by private individuals and for-profit organizations. The current law also provides a fourth category, public agencies or political subdivisions, but rental charges for that group are at the mayor’s discretion.
Under the proposed fee schedule on Tuesday’s agenda, the “public agency” designation will be eliminated, leaving only three categories.
City Council President Kim Harbison said the new auditorium can’t really be compared with the old building it replaced. But some groups have complained about higher costs to rent the new facility, and the council hopes to increase business by making some adjustments.
When the current schedule was originally set, Mayor Freddy Drennan said, he asked the council to revisit the issue in 18 months, and the proposed ordinance is the result of that process. The basic goal is to make sure that the city covers its costs.
Drennan described the new fee structure as less rigid.
Breaking down the rental cost by the number of hours an organization actually needs the building, for example, would offer significant savings for groups that don’t use it for 12 hours. Tax-exempt nonprofits, for example, would have a base price of $600 for up to four hours, $1,250 for four to eight hours and $2,000 for eight to 12 hours. Under the current fee structure, those customers all must pay $2,000 for 12 hours.
Nonprofits that are not charitable now all pay $2,500. The new breakdown would be $700 for up to four hours, $1,450 for four to eight hours and $2,200 for eight to 12 hours.
Private groups or individuals would see their cost reduced from a flat $3,000 to $800 for up to four hours, $1,800 for four to eight hours and $2,800 for eight to 12 hours.
Follow Sara Pagones on Twitter, @spagonesadvocat.