There’s gold in the Boise River! Well, maybe not gold, but plenty of cash. Folks paid about $450,000 dollars to float in a raft or inner tube from Barber Park To Julia Davis this summer–not bad for about 90 days. The season ends at the end of the Labor Day Weekend.
The river float gets more popular each year. Ada County last operated the raft and tube rental at Barber Park in the summer of 2007. The county generated just under $300K in raft and tube rentals, and shuttle fees for the Barber to Ann Morrison Park circuit that year. In 2013 the numbers are expected to be about $450,000 with Ada County earning approximately 28% (about $125K) for the county coffers.
The county contract with Epley’s calls for a concession payment to the county of $75,000 and 20% of everything over $200,000. Epley’s took over the contract from the county in 2008 and currently holds rights to the float concession through 2015.
The arrangement appears to be one of those proverbial “win-win” partnerships since the county doesn’t have to invest in equipment or personnel to run the operation. Here is how Ada County explained the contract to the GUARDIAN:
“Terms included Epley’s agreeing to become fully responsible for maintaining the equipment (rafts and tubes) and buses, and replacement of the equipment when worn, damaged or unsafe for use. This was a significant investment by Epley’s, resulting in their owning much of the equipment inventory. In fairness, they were granted an extension of the agreement to allow for amortizing their capital investment over a couple of additional seasons.”
Ada County Commissioner’s Chief of Staff Larry Maneely has added what we hope is a final footnote:
“In an effort to be as open and transparent as possible, I have had conversations with our interim Parks Director, and she has shared some preliminary numbers (end of season inventory scheduled this week) on the Barber Park raft and tube rental business Ada County contracts with Epley’s. I apologize for, and take ownership of, one erroneous phrase that may have furthered confusion.
I referenced Epley’s becoming “fully” responsible….whereas it should have read “shared responsibility” for repair of equipment and buses….
“They have apparently bought a bus, we still own a couple, each does their own maintenance on those, and on the equipment among the raft and tube inventory (also including paddles and tube covers). They have bought some of all of that, so they can expand the business and grow their profits. The county continues to own most of it, but Epley’s repairs or replaces when it is damaged or becomes unsafe through the season. It’s my understanding from our interim Parks Director that Epley’s has invested $150K+ in buses, trailers, rafts, kayaks, paddles and tube covers (hence the extended commitment from the county).
“Bottom line, the county nets about what was earned when this was solely county run…but now with shared maintenance obligation, and without the personnel issues that come with going 12 hours daily for the summer months. The public seems pleased, Epley’s has a successful enterprise, and the commissioners are delighted to be able to continue to offer this iconic experience to area residents (who, I should add, can still raft free of all charges with their own equipment, and use our FREE 10 air pump stations on a daily basis). River rafting has been, and remains free to all, and is one of the great joys of living in Ada County.”
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