Raffle to aid Nampa schools is scuttled

The Idaho Lottery cites several problems with a plan to raise $4 million.

broberts@idahostatesman.comMay 28, 2013 

Nampa School District, home raffle, Tom Michaelson

Philip Allaire’s first house in the raffle has two bedrooms, two bathrooms and 965 square feet. He also intends to raffle off new houses and townhouses.

DARIN OSWALD — doswald@idahostatesman.com Buy Photo

— A Middleton retiree who wanted to help the Nampa School District solve its multimillion-dollar budget deficit by raffling off up to 40 homes shut down the project and website just days after he launched it.

The development came Tuesday as the Nampa district continued to try to dig its way out of a nearly $4 million shortfall for next year.

The district board of trustees Tuesday night considered cutting 10 more teachers through attrition. But balancing the budget could require even more attrition cuts and furloughs, said Pete Koehler, interim superintendent, who didn’t know how many furlough days would be required.

The district and the teachers union will meet again Friday morning to continue negotiations.

As for the raffle, Idaho Lottery officials raised multiple concerns in a letter Saturday to Philip Allaire, president of Enriching Endowments Inc., the nonprofit organization set up to run the program. Those were:

• The organization needed a specific date on which to hold the raffle; it could not run the raffle indefinitely. Allaire’s plan had been to sell 2,500 tickets for $100 apiece before holding the lottery for each house.

• Enrichment Endowments received the house it was raffling through a donation from Allaire; the plan was for the Nampa School District to get the proceeds after the expenses of buying and fixing the home were deducted. But the Idaho Lottery said, “Donated prizes are considered to have no cost and do not reduce the receipts when calculating net proceeds.”

• The nonprofit was selling raffle tickets online, which is not authorized in Idaho.

Allaire, who did receive a license to run the raffle from the Idaho Lottery, said he knew of nothing in state law that prohibited him from doing what he was doing. But he said he immediately shut down the website after receiving the letter.

Forty-nine tickets had been sold; all the money was to be returned as of Tuesday, Allaire said.

Lottery officials said they did not know the organization was going to sell tickets over the Internet when they processed Allaire’s application.

Allaire accused the Idaho Lottery of “short-circuiting” the success of his program and of having an “obstinate attitude,” suggesting that “the same form of bureaucracy and incompetence of government that created the financial crisis” is blocking a solution.

“It is going to get to the point where the courts are going to get involved,” Allaire told the Statesman.

The Nampa School District expressed appreciation for Allaire’s efforts.

The fundraiser, said Allison Westfall, Nampa School District spokeswoman, “doesn’t appear to be something that is going to happen.”

The school district’s involvement was simply as recipient of the funds, she said.

The program was kicked off at a press event May 22 attended by Allaire and district officials at 128 N. Summerbreeze St., the address of the first home being raffled.

Under the plan, Allaire would purchase the houses and refurbish them to code, with new appliances and other amenities, and recover his costs before paying the difference to the Nampa School District.

People could go to the raffle website to purchase a ticket. When 2,500 tickets were sold, that house would be raffled, and then the next home would be offered.

Allaire said his program might raise as much as $4 million for Nampa schools.

Bill Roberts: 377-6408, Twitter: @IDS_BillRoberts

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