Wednesday, 31 May 2017 15:31

City manager recommends six months of theater operational costs

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City Manager Joseph Scherer this afternoon recommended funding only six months of operational costs for the Roanoke Rapids Theatre.

The recommendation came during discussions on the upcoming fiscal year budget.
The proposal comes as the city continues to try to sell the venue and works to seek development of parcels around the facility. Scherer declined comment on the specifics on the projects being discussed.
Short of those options occurring, the city could close the doors of the venue, he said during the annual budget presentation, or council could consider allocating additional funds at the end of December for its continued operation
Scherer told council, “We’re going to market the facility as best we can. We still have a realtor and a couple of potential development (projects) may help us. We are trying to get things going out there. We’re not sitting around waiting for someone to walk in.”
Scherer said by fall he believes the city should know the best way to go with the theater. ‘I just think we’ll be in a better position to decide what’s the best option to go for theater operations.”
Councilman Wayne Smith said the decision comes down to expenses. “Because of the expense we can’t keep subsidizing the people who are putting on shows.”
City Finance Director Leigh Etheridge said $114,305 was budgeted in the upcoming fiscal year for maintenance of the building. Maintenance and utilities are the two biggest expenses for the building. That budget line also includes what she called a small amount for the cost of personnel.
“For the income we take in, it doesn’t come close,” Scherer said. “The theater is not self-supporting.”
The total income for all shows put on for the past year, Etheridge said, is about $30,000.
Scherer said the costs of keeping the theater open not only include the inside of the venue, but the streetlights throughout the entire area.
The public works department has implemented a new energy control pilot program at the venue. The system includes 17 wireless thermostats which can monitored in the building as well by cell phone.
The program has just started, he said.

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