Retiree hopes to raffle away Nampa’s deficit

Shortly after Thomas Michaelson took the helm of the troubled Nampa School District, Philip Allaire approached Michaelson with an unusual offer.

Allaire.Michaelson
Retired developer Philip Allaire, left, and outgoing Nampa School District Superintendent Thomas Michaelson.

Allaire said he had a plan that could quickly eliminate the district’s deficit, then pegged at $4.3 million. “That kind of got his attention,” said Allaire.

“I didn’t refuse,” said Michaelson.

Six months later, Allaire and Michaelson unveiled the plan Wednesday. Allaire will purchase and refurbish some 40 homes in Nampa. His nonprofit organization, Enriching Endowments Inc., will sell off raffle tickets, $100 a pop and 2,500 per home. After Allaire’s purchase price and repair costs are covered, the school district will keep the proceeds.

The fundraising goal: $4.3 million.

Nampa house square
This 965-square-foot house is up for raffle, with proceeds to benefit the cash-strapped Nampa School District.

And the first house is up for grabs: a 965-square-foot, two-bedroom, two-bathroom house on the west end of Nampa. Raffle tickets are available on the nonprofit’s website: www.enrichedraffle.org.

Allaire purchased the home in January, but it’s taken several months to go through the legal hoops to get the raffle off the ground. His group needed approval from the Idaho Lottery to raffle homes. Michaelson consulted with the district’s legal counsel about the plan.

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Allaire built a development company in Rhode Island — working on commercial and residential projects, and completing FAA contracts to soundproof homes near airports. He sold his company in 2004 and retired at age 50. He moved to Middleton two years ago to be closer to relatives.

When he speaks about Enriching Endowments, his optimism is as apparent as his thick New England accent. He believes many families will pay $100 — the cost of a Friday night dinner out — to go after the dream of winning a house. Nampa residents have more of a stake in supporting the nonprofit, but he expects to sell raffle tickets well outside city limits. And he doesn’t feel limited to raffling 40 homes; if people spend $10 million to purchase 100,000 tickets, he will simply buy and refurbish more homes.

Allaire would like to see the Nampa district use the proceeds to reduce its deficit, now estimated at $5.1 million, or restore programs that have been cut to date. But ultimately, he has little control over how the district spends the money.

That goes for Michaelson as well. Appointed in November to straighten out Nampa’s budget crunch, he will resign effective May 31 — after it became evident to him that the board would not renew his contract for 2013-14.

The district should treat the raffle proceeds like a property tax levy, a source of one-time money. And the district still needs to deal with the “hemorrhaging” in the budget: expenses, largely in personnel, that outstrip revenue.

But Michaelson said Allaire’s plan could provide Nampa a cash transfusion. “His intentions are proper and in the right place. They’re admirable.”