Raffling off homes to help Nampa schools

A retired developer's plan creates opportunity for struggling district, future homeowners.

broberts@idahostatesman.comMay 22, 2013 

The Nampa School District is taking a chance on a lottery to bail it out of red ink.

Philip J. Allaire, a Middleton retiree, is purchasing up to 40 houses and intends to sell $100 tickets for the chance to own them, raising up to $4 million for the district.

Nampa schools face a $5.1 million deficit. In March, voters approved a $4.3 million levy to help fill in the hole.

Allaire, 58, said he retired seven years ago having done well in commercial and residental development in Rhode Island, and wants to help the district with its budget shortfall.

"I never finished high school," he said. "I never got my education and I saw the stumbling blocks along the way that education would have eliminated."

Allaire, who moved to Middleton two years ago to be near grandchildren, started a nonprofit organization licensed by the Idaho Lottery Commission to raffle the places.

Here is how it will work:

Allaire purchases the houses and refurbishes them to code, with new appliances and other amenities.

People can go to the raffle website to purchase a ticket. When 2,500 tickets are sold, the house will be raffled and another offered.

Tickets already are available online for a house at 128 N. Summerbreeze St. in Nampa. It has an assessed value of $69,700, according to the county assessor.

Winners might get a great deal, but they also will face state and federal taxes on the fair market value of the home, tax officials said.

Allaire said he put $26,000 worth of improvements into the Summerbreeze home, which was built in 2001.

Allaire, who said his salary at the nonprofit is $1 a year, will deduct expenses and turn the rest over to the Nampa School District.

STARTED WITH A PHONE CALL

About six months ago, Allaire called Tom Michaelson, Nampa's school superintendent, to suggest the idea after seeing news reports. District cuts were causing transportation problems to after-school programs, Michaelson said.

"I didn't refuse," said Michaelson, who has since decided to step down at the end of May.

They worked with district legal counsel to put the fundraising program together.

Allaire said restoring after-school programs is a top goal for him.

As the recession hit, he said, schools took the biggest hit.

Regarding education, he said: "Nothing else matters. It's got to be funded somehow."

DINNER OR A HOUSE?

How well Nampa will respond to a 40-house raffle is uncertain, given the still-sluggish economy.

"Look at the restaurants on a Friday or Saturday night," Allaire said. "Dinner for five is over $100. We are just asking for one night, one ticket, and you get a chance to own your dream."

Allaire's efforts will go to a district whose finances are hardly settled. Earlier this month, administrators discovered another $1 million that has not been spent correctly and must be repaid.

That's not deterring Allaire.

"We hope the lessons are learned," he said. "The only thing you can do is give the money."

School board members were briefed a week ago on the work Michaelson and Allaire have been doing.

Bob Otten, a newly re-elected board member, said he didn't have many details.

"I am pleased he is going to do it," Otten said. "I am speechless."

Bill Roberts: 377-6408, Twitter: @IDS_BillRoberts

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