Weekend, evening rates may rise

In a move to keep up with competitors and break even financially, Columbia County officials intend to raise the rental rates at Savannah Rapids Pavilion.

The nearly 12.5 percent rise in the fees for leisure -- evening and weekend -- rentals, might bring in an additional $35,000 in annual revenue, said Columbia County Director of Community and Leisure Services Barry Smith.

The Grand Rapids Ballroom of the facility near the banks of the Augusta Canal currently costs $1,000 to rent for six hours and $1,400 for 10 hours on a Saturday. With the proposed increase, which officials expect the Columbia County Commission to approve next week, a six-hour Saturday rental will cost $1,100.

The new rate schedule eliminates the 10-hour rental block in favor of a 12-hour slot. The ballroom rental fee for 12 hours on a Saturday might rise to $1,600. The fee for corporate, or daytime, hours will remain as is, Mr. Smith said.

Damage deposit fees also will rise, and in January officials approved a rate increase for linen and audio-visual rentals.

These increases, coupled with the elimination of a county fee for landscape services, might allow Savannah Rapids to stabilize its books. In the past, the facility lost as much as $60,000 in a year.

Despite the increase, Mr. Smith said Savannah Rapids is a bargain compared with other area rental facilities. It costs $3,000 to rent the Belair Conference Center for 12 hours on a Saturday, he said.

Customers who have already booked won't pay more. "We're honoring all previously scheduled events with a deposit in place," Mr. Smith said.

Under that policy, it might take time before the county reaps any benefits from the rate change.

"We're not going to break even with the rate increase for at least a year," said Sandy Boner, the county's community centers manager.

Reach Donnie Fetter at (706) 868-1222, ext. 115, or donnie.fetter@augustachronicle.com.

PAVILION LEISURE RATE RENTAL FEES

RoomOld Fee*New Fee**
Entire building$2,300$2,700
Grand Rapids Ballroom$1,400$1,600
Combo Room$575$625
White Oak Room$425$450
Sycamore Room$175$175
Loblolly Pine Room$575$625
Red Cedar Room$275$300

*Based on a 10-hour block.........**Based on a 12-hour block

Source: Columbia County Community and Leisure Services Division