Queens Place budget not quite as expected

Nick
Nick Moase
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Council got a report on the third quarter of the 2012-2013 budget, and there were a few numbers that caused some concern.

Council heard Queens Place fell short in some budgeted areas, on Jan. 21. Most of it was attributed with getting used to the operations of the arena. 

Some of the budgeted numbers for Queens Place fell far short of their budgeted totals, though there are still three months left out of the year.

For income, Queens Place was budgeted $495,159, and to date made $339,866.

The walking track was one of the main areas to not live up to its budget. It was budgeted for $42,000, but has only made $8,756 this year.

Concessions also fell short, making $19,012 to a budget of $43,000.

However other areas were much higher than budgeted. Gate revenue was set at $4,800, but is already at $10,785 for the year. Room rentals were also up, budgeted at $16,030 but have made $23,789.

Some of the budget differences were explained as a lack of experience, said Mayor Christopher Clarke. Though their budgets were prepared based on consultants estimates and the income from the last three months of the 2011-2012 fiscal year, he said there are bound to be thing that will need adjusting going forward.

The weather can also be to blame for the lack of walking track use, said some councillors.

Conc. Inglis said he sees the walking like a ballfield, which is more seasonal. With colder weather they hope to see the usage numbers go up.

For the items that are over budget, Nova Scotia Music Week and the Transition Team meetings can largely be attributed to that income.

On the expenditure side of things, most items were about where they were expected for Queens Place. On a budget of $770,004, $633,335 has been spent.

On item that was over budget was the power costs. Queens Place has already used $155,628, about $21,000 over a budget of $134,000.

Chief administrative officer Kathleen Rafuse said this is partly due to not having control over the lighting until fall, when the construction of the centre was completed. As a result many more lights were left on than needed.

Some lights are still on now, however those are for security reasons and are a low wattage type. The parking lot lights also are on a timer now, and turn off after 1 a.m., she said.

Facility maintenance costs were up over $20,000 of a $46,500 budget. This was because custodial services were contracted out but cost more than expected. In December custodial services was changed to a salaried staff position, to cut down on those costs.

Rafuse added that strictly looking at Queens Place there is a loss, however between $1.5 to $2 million has gone back into the community from events brought in because of the facility.

 

Finding solutions

Neil Raymond, general manager of Queens Place, said they are putting in initiatives to promote the walking track. Recently the hours were changed to allow increased usage.

The walking track is now open:

Monday – Friday: 8 a.m.-8 p.m.

Saturday and Sunday: 9 a.m.-4 p.m.

Running and Jogging Times:

Monday – Thursday: 6 a.m.-8 a.m. and 8 p.m.-9 p.m.

Friday:    6 a.m.-8 a.m.

 

This year Queens Place will be keeping the ice in all summer long. The goal is to determine what kind of demand they have for summer ice, as well as getting an actual figure for keeping ice all year round.  

"If summer ice is going to work, we're going to find out about it this summer," said Coun. Bruce Inglis, chair of the Queens Place Steering Committee. "If we don't explore the avenue of summer ice, we may lose on that opportunity to other facilities that are opening around us."

Out of a $17.6 million budget, the Region has spent $13.2 million. It works out to 75 per cent of the year's budget has been spent. 

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