PLATTSBURGH — After a hard look at the city's rec facilities, officials aren't recommending any closures, but are pushing for upped fees.
The four branches of the City of Plattsburgh Rec Complex include the Crete Memorial Civic Center, Plattsburgh City Beach, Plattsburgh City Marina and the City Recreation Center, or gym.
In recent months, City Chamberlain Richard Marks presented the financial standings for each of those facilities and, according to his figures, none had been generating revenue.
Over the years, City Councilor Rachelle Armstrong (D-Ward 1) said, there were many who questioned the Rec Complex's finances.
"Answers had been put on hold," she said at Thursday's council session. "This is the year that we really had to put the finances under the microscope. No question, we value the quality of life and all of the ways in which life is enhanced by having the recreation services.
"The question is: What serves the broadest sector of the public and how can we best serve everyone?"
Per their roles on the city's Governance, Strategy and City Operations Committee, Councilors Armstrong and Patrick McFarlin (I-Ward 5) developed some recommendations for those city centers and their failing finances.
The pair worked in coordination with Councilors Mike Kelly (D-Ward 2) and Jeff Moore (D-Ward 6) of the Finance and Budget Committee, as well as Chamberlain Marks.
The city officials examined the condition, expense, viability and community value of each facility.
And Rec Complex users were somewhat tracked, as well, to determine whether city residents were subsidizing the municipality-based facilities for out-of-city users.
Unofficial numbers had shown 31 percent of city gym users were non-city residents and 62 percent of beach users — mostly Canadian — traveled there, as well.
As for the Crete Center, those numbers were solely based off of the indoor soccer league there.
Of the approximate 12,000 participants, about 57 percent were not city residents.
In looking at the facilities, financial shortfalls were the biggest consideration.
The city gym had a projected 2019 cost of $498,963, but its lower revenue left it with a $261,893, or 69 percent, deficit and the City Beach's 2019 had a similar deficit, projected at 51 percent.
Forecasts for the Crete Center deficit, however, showed the most dramatic shortfall, hovering at about 97 percent.
The 2019 predictions for that facility had estimated operational costs of about $319,000 with expected revenues of around $144,000.
Taking the figures into account, Armstrong said the managers of each facility had been asked to lower those percentages by way of increased facility fees.
"To try to come closer to covering operational expenses," she said. "We didn't ask that debt service or any amount that would be spent on maintenance and repair be included in what they need to come up with in order to increase fees to cover operations."
And it was hoped that regional collaboration could exist to help operate the Crete Center and the city gym.
"Our recommendation as a committee is that both facilities, because they draw significant numbers of patrons who live outside of the city, there should be working groups organized and made up of regional stakeholders to come up with a strategic plan," Armstrong said.
"That would be organized, I hope, in 2021 or sooner."
Recommendations for the City Marina strayed away from those of the city's other rec facilities.
Including debt services, that docking area had a projected 2019 cost of $248,624 with a deficit of $145,893, equaling 43 percent.
Before the City of Plattsburgh operated the City Marina as a public facility, Armstrong said it had been considered for leasing.
"That idea didn't prevail," she said, adding that an agreement was then signed with management team Navtours.
"They were managers and, in return, they got a certain number of slips at the marina as a, kind of, shall we say, quid pro quo."
The city has operated the marina since that contract expired, and, Armstrong said, the numbers weren't looking good.
"This has caused our committee to reconsider how viable this is and whether this is really a good use of city resources," she said, adding that 90 percent of marina users were tracked from outside the city.
The recommendation was to return to the original concept of entering into a lease agreement.
"We (would) send out a request for proposals to have someone else manage the marina," she said. "That (would) hopefully cover the shortfall there."
2021 CAPITAL PLAN
The committee recommended the City Common Council moved forward with Mayor Colin Read's proposed capital expenditures for the 2020 budget year, included in his previously announced Mayor's Budget.
"This devotes some money to renovation of the City Beach bathhouse and other really seriously deteriorating parts of the beach and the Crete Center, etc.," Armstrong said.
For 2021, however, the city councilor hoped a strategic plan, with intent to enhance assets that serve the most City of Plattsburgh residents, could be developed.
"We're recommending that the 2021 Capital Budget include more funds for the beach and the parks, which we feel better serve the majority of our public," she said.
'SHARPEN YOUR PENCILS'
Armstrong said the announced recommendations had already been conveyed to the Rec Complex managers.
"The managers have been working really hard," she said. "They've come up with a draft (plan) and we're considering it."
During the council session, Councilor Kelly said he had gotten a "sneak preview" of those drafts.
"You're close. You're real close," he said to the city's Recreational Department in attendance. "We appreciate that, but, I guess, we would like for you to sharpen up your pencils a little more and see if you can find some additional revenue there.
"It would be nice if you could reach our targets."
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