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Policy to clarify NLA surcharges

April 9, 2008
Patty Ramus
The Northern Lights Arena surcharge ad hoc committee created a policy Wednesday to provide clarification for how the surcharge is collected by the arena.

Alpena County Coordinator Jeff Thornton said the surcharge policy was first implemented by the board of commissioners in February 2005. It currently states a $1 surcharge will be collected for all paid tickets. The revenue generated from the surcharge goes into NLA’s major capital improvements fund, which is controlled by the county.

“It was misunderstood what a paid ticket event was. They’re putting a procedure to that,” he said.

Under the policy the $1 surcharge will apply to paid ticketed ice events and paid ticketed non-facility, non-ice events. The only exception to this will be Michigan High School Athletic Association tournament events. In lieu of the surcharge, a cleaning fee will be collected from the MHSAA.

The surcharge will not apply to rentals. For rentals, 5 percent will be assessed to the base rental rate. Shared events between NLA and the Thunder Bay Recreation Center and non-facility, non-ice events fall into the rentals category.

There was some discussion by the committee about whether to assess 5 percent or 10 percent to base rental rate. NLA Manager Bob Krafft said assessing 10 percent may cause the arena to lose its competitiveness with certain shows.

The committee clarified whether the surcharge will apply to promotional tickets. Promotional tickets for paid events will be exempt from the surcharge with the consent of the facility’s manager.

Committee member Mark Hunter said there should be some guidelines set about the promotional tickets for the facilities manager because there could be an accountability issue.

“An organization could give away all their tickets,” he said. “He can’t have sole discretion.”

Brandy Norton said promotional tickets are a marketing tool and a surcharge shouldn’t apply in that situation.

“It has to be his call. We can’t start surcharging a marketing effort,” she said.

The committee decided to have the goal of growing NLA’s capital improvements fund up to $200,000 within eight years with the assumption approximately $23,000 in surcharge revenue would be going into the account. The committee decided to recommend allowing NLA to spend approximately $2,000 from the fund each year for minor capital improvements. Those expenditures are not to exceed $4,500.

The surcharge will be auditable through ticket counts conducted by the facilities manager and the representative of the paid ticketed event. Each individual will sign a statement of the ticket count and the document will then be turned into the county treasurer.

Krafft said he was pleased with the decisions reached by the committee.

“It’s good financial planning to have this surcharge. I think the implementation is going to be fair to all the users of the facilities so it doesn’t hurt the facility and its users,” he said.

Thornton said the policy recommended by the committee will go the full board of commissioners for approval during its next meeting on April 22.

Patty Ramus can be reached via e-mail at or by phone at 358-5687.


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