“But right now, the expenses are exceeding revenues.”
Ordinarily, I am not one to say, “I told you so”, but I TOLD YOU SO years ago.
I know that there is a paywall up on this news site, but basically, the town is losing money on the operations of the civic center and the town manager wants to make some common-sense changes to attempt to make it easier for the venue to get used. Of course, there is always something for which there is pushback.
Here is the text of the article.
SELMA — The Selma Civic Center is losing money, and the rules governing its use aren’t helping, Town Manager Brent Taylor told the Town Council last week.
“It’s really hard to give a true picture due to COVID and the restrictions,” Taylor said, suggesting that the virus and the lockdowns it spawned have dampened revenue. “But right now, the expenses are exceeding revenues.”
Taylor recommended that the council change many of the rules that tell people how and when they can use the Civic Center.
One rule, for example, bans weekly meetings at the center. “One of the things I would take a look at is removing that,” Taylor said. “That will enable us to look at developing some partnerships, especially during non-peak times, whether it be with event planners or promoters or any type of organizations that we could draw consistent income from.”
Taylor would also ease the rule that requires any event with alcohol to employ an off-duty sheriff’s deputy at $30 an hour. “Sometimes you have rentals where you’re just basically having a champagne toast and the threat of a problem is very minimal,” he said. “To require security for six to eight hours when really they’re having maybe one drink … that could be kind of cost-prohibitive at $30 an hour.”
Taylor recommended giving him the discretion to decide when to require security at events with alcohol.
He also recommended that the Civic Center be available 365 days a year. “Right now, it’s closed on virtually any significant holiday — Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc.,” he said.
But those are also holidays when families tend to gather in large numbers, Taylor said. “Somebody wants to have a family reunion but their home’s not big enough to accommodate that, that’s a prime time to rent it,” he said.
Taylor acknowledged that a venue open 365 days a year could place heavy demands on town staffing. “If that’s a concern, I think we could certainly look at some events that may not be staffed,” he said. “I’ve worked in places where people have rented buildings and it’s not staffed.”
“It’s not foolproof,” Taylor added. “I did have occasions where somebody left it a mess, but I would say 95% of the time, that did not happen.”
Taylor also recommended extending the center’s hours. “The center does close at midnight,” he said. “You may want to look at extending those hours a little bit to maybe 1 or 2, to just see what happens. You can always go back and change it if something becomes a problem.”
In a memo to the council, Taylor suggested other changes, including ending the rule that says no group may book the Civic Center more than three times in six months. “This may be a problem that doesn’t exist,” Taylor wrote. “There could be a benefit to having a consistent event planner make reservations for multiple rentals.”
He also recommended not charging double on New Year’s Eve, July 3-5, Labor Day and Memorial Day.
The council largely agreed with Taylor’s recommendations but wasn’t sold on extending center hours past midnight.
“Midnight, that sounds reasonable to me,” Councilwoman Amy Whitley said. “I’m not sure about 1 and 2.”
“I do suggest that we do look at that angle very carefully,” Mayor Byron McAllister added.
As a compromise, Taylor suggested that maybe events could end at midnight but cleanup could extend to 1 or 2 a.m.
McAllister told the council to be ready to vote on Taylor’s recommendations in February.