Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Evidence why a facility charge is needed at the Leach Amphitheater

There have been efforts in the past to institute a surcharge on tickets to performances at the Leach Amphitheater. They have failed. We lost a great deal of revenue last year during the amphitheater’s first season because such a fee was not in place. The second season of events at the Leach is quickly approaching and, still, there is no fee in place. The fee would be used to help cover future maintenance costs at the facility.

This morning’s Oshkosh Northwestern had a story about how a band shell in Green Lake has been left to languish over the years and now needs tens of thousands of dollars in repairs. Granted, their band shell has been there for more than 50 years and ours only since 2005, but the point needs to be made that we need a fee in place now. With community budgets getting tighter and tighter, future repairs (or improvements, for that matter) will be more difficult to accomplish without going to the taxpayers. And our budgets are getting tighter, too, in case City Hall hasn’t noticed. The reality is the people using the facility are the ones who should be paying for it and this fee needs to be put in place now.

Undoubtedly efforts to do so would be met by such organizers as those from the Waterfest concert series with arguments like, “Our materials for this year are already printed up and it would cost us too much to change them.” That was the argument we heard last year. Knowing that a fee could be coming, they could easily have avoided such a dilemma by printing on their materials that prices are subject to change or that prices do not include a surcharge for using the facility. Things change all the time and I seriously doubt someone will not come to the Leach because of an extra 50-cents or dollar attached to their ticket for a user fee, facility charge, or whatever you want to call it.

I recognize the city council will not institute something before this season, but at a minimum they need to pass something NOW for next year. Let’s not keep putting this off until we have a situation on our hands like Green Lake has. Let’s have a city council that is proactive for a change rather than being a “Johnny-come-lately.”

- Cheryl


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