Rehoboth Beach Convention Center and wedding rates increase beginning Jan. 1, but it appears the increases will be less than previously approved by commissioners.
In March, in an attempt to recoup convention center operating costs and fund future improvements, Rehoboth commissioners approved rate increases more than doubling daily weekend rates for nonprofit and for-profit entities. As approved, beginning Jan. 1, weekend daily rates for nonprofits are scheduled to increase from $800 to $2,000, while for-profits would see an increase from $1,100 to $2,500.
During a commissioner workshop Dec. 10, Commissioner Lisa Schlosser presented commissioners with a proposal that would see the weekend daily rate for nonprofits increase to $1,000, while the for-profit rate increase would be to $1,500.
Some small rate increases are appropriate, Schlosser said, but the extreme increases are not going over very well.
Schlosser proposed no increase from current rates for nonprofits or for-profits for using the convention center Monday through Thursday. The current rate for a for-profit group is $600 and $550 for a nonprofit.
Schlosser said the weekday pricing reflects a desire to bring in community organizations to use the building during the week.
Convention center rates were not the only city rates set to increase. Beach wedding rates were set to increase from a nonrefundable $175 to a refundable $500. As proposed, the increase would be to $200, which includes a nonrefundable permit fee of $50.
The proposal to lower the rate increase comes from the city’s bandstand, convention hall and special events committee, which has been discussing the issue for months.
During a committee meeting Dec. 5, Steve Perry, city administrative billing assistant, said city data tracking year-to-date bookings was limited. He said there were three contracted bookings for the convention center in 2019, with five more longtime convention center users – CAMP Rehoboth, Jazz Fest, Polkamotion by the Ocean, Blue Jean Ball and a University of Delaware dental conference – considering a contract, but examining costs.
There’s also been a decrease in wedding bookings. Perry said, by this point in 2016, 21 weddings were booked for 2017; in 2017, by December, 19 weddings were booked for 2018. As of Dec. 10, 10 weddings were booked in 2019, he said.
Carol Everhart, Rehoboth Beach-Dewey Beach Chamber of Commerce president, thanked the commissioners for reconsidering convention center and wedding rates. The chamber has gotten a lot of negative feedback about the previously approved rates, but chamber officials say the new proposed rates are acceptable, she said.
Commissioners also approved an increase in Grove Park rates in March, but the committee has not recommended any changes to those rates. Effective Jan. 1, the rental fee for the small pavilion is going to increase from $20, with a $75 deposit, to a flat $60 for nonprofits and $75 for for-profit entities; for the large pavilion, the fee will increase from a $25 rental fee, with a $75 deposit, to a flat $80 for nonprofits and $100 for for-profits; and for use of both pavilions the increase will be from a $45 rental fee, with a $100 deposit, to a flat rate of $120 for nonprofits and $150 for for-profits.
At the conclusion of the workshop discussion, Mayor Paul Kuhns agreed to have a vote on the new rate increases as part of the commissioners’ Friday, Dec. 21 meeting.