Complex has projected deficit in third quarter

By Karen Fallon

The projected shortfall in the United Communities Credit Union Complex’s third quarter of $895,000 brought about varied comments from council members at Monday’s meeting.

“When I first read this report I had mixed emotions,” said councilor Robert Pillon, who noted that the managers who were involved in the complex had previously told council not to expect to break even for the first couple of years.

“The part that bothered me was that I wasn’t aware that we didn’t have the proper equipment to run that small ice pad and yet we went out and bought a brand new backhoe…that’s bull,” said Pillon. “We should have had that equipment to run that small ice pad.”

Rental of the goalie rink hasn’t happened, it is noted in a report by CAO Pam Malott and Rick Daly, manager of business development and programming, because the ice can’t be maintained at an adequate level, as the town doesn’t have the equipment to maintain it.

Because of the size of the rink specialized equipment including a Zamboni is needed that differs from that used in the main pads.

“We can’t in good conscience rent it out and have it not safe for our users,” said Daly.

“We just gave everybody all the bullets they need to shoot us; all the ones that didn’t want this complex to succeed,” said Pillon.

“In the second quarter report it said that we were on target and it just came as a surprise to me that we were almost $900,000 in a deficit…that’s a lot of money,” said councilor Diane Pouget.

Councillor John Sutton pointed out that it isn’t out of the ordinary for a recreation facility such as Windsor’s WFCU or LaSalle’s Vollmer Complex to loose money in the first year, especially on the revenue side.

Sutton says that the shortfall was something council was cautioned about during their earlier budget deliberations.

The Town received the revenue projections by the complex’s development manager Nustadia Recreation based on its experiences in other facilities. These figures formed the basis of the Complex’s operating budget.

According to the report, several factors have contributed to the projected shortfall.

These include the fact that revenue from the rental of the solar panels have yet to be taken into account as the construction of the panels on the complex roof has not yet started. The estimated start of this construction is next spring.

The outdoor canteen is not completed and illuminated signage is not expected to be finished until 2012.

Also, rental revenue didn’t come in from the premier diamond, premier outdoor and indoor soccer fields, the two ice pads and from community room rentals because of former agreements with several user groups which had previously had free use of the facility.

“We are going to have to take a closer look at user fees and those coming from outside the municipality may have to pay a higher rate because they are not paying taxes,” said Pouget.

“I think we should be careful not to over react to this budget…. these are just over guesses” said Davies. “I am concerned that we have user fees that eliminate people from being able to use the facility because they can’t afford it.

As a result of this projection,” notes, Malott in the report. The recreation and culture department will be looking at a more aggressive marketing plan as well as the user fee schedule to increase revenue.

Both, the cost of the marketing plan and the possible increase in user fees will be presented to council at their 2012 budget deliberations, she continues.

Sutton says he would like to see the quarterly reports taken off the consent agenda and have the supervisor of budget services give a verbal report to council during future meetings.

“I don’t think we should go off in the wrong direction,” said mayor Wayne Hurst. “This has been a tremendous undertaking and we were not naive enough to think that these projections were not going to be realized in the first year.”


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