By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes
In the last couple of budget cycles, serious concerns were raised about rental revenue of the Keizer Civic Center.
A new Event Center Coordinator position was filled by Kristian Bouvier in January 2014, with the hope being revenue would be greatly boosted and less general fund money would have to be used to help run the building.
When that didn’t happen by last spring, there were serious concerns expressed about the economic viability of the position during the budget meetings. After all, revenue was expected to jump from $98,000 a year to $170,000 a year, but instead went up just $1,700.
It appears a year can make quite the difference.
Tim Wood, who was recently named Finance director for Keizer, requested a supplemental budget for the community center during Monday’s Keizer City Council meeting – which was held in the Robert L. Simon Council Chamber inside the community center.
The 2015-16 community center budget was based on the anticipation of receiving $100,000 in rental feels for the entire fiscal year, which ends on June 30.
“As of the end of February, we have surpassed the goal already,” Wood said on Monday. “As of Feb. 29, the fund has already received $101,094 in rental income and is currently projected to receive approximately $150,000 in rental fees for the fiscal year.”
The supplemental budget request came forward because an additional $10,000 is needed for temporary labor to staff events and $5,000 is needed for maintenance costs and for credit card fees. The request was approved unanimously.
“I am thrilled with the revenue coming in on the community center,” mayor Cathy Clark said. “Kristian and the people at the Keizer Heritage Center have been working closely to make sure we see increased use. Thank you for the hard work Kristian and team. We hear so many good things from people who hold events here.”
Wood said word of mouth has helped increase business at city hall.
“People have enjoyed using the facility,” he said. “That has been the driving force for the increase. We’re close to where they want us to be. We probably have more work to do. We anticipate the current level will continue into the future.”
After concerns were expressed during the last two budget cycles, councilors approved a revised rental pricing structure for the city hall last summer.
Room rental rates were increased across the board and the cheaper Tuesday Community Day rate – referred to as the “Tightwad Tuesday” rate – was eliminated since state agencies were taking advantage of the lower rates and filling up rooms on that day, which went against the goal of offering a lower rate for community or non-profit groups.
“A large percent of those groups (that took advantage of the lower rates) still come back,” Wood said. “Our facility is nicely located, with plenty of parking.”
There was a lack of discussion about the topic on Monday. That, and the notable upswing in the numbers, is in contrast to the last two budget cycles.
For example, last May budget committee members expressed disappointment and concern about the numbers.
“With this position, we budgeted revenue to move from $98,000 to $170,000,” council president Dennis Koho said at the time. “We spent $31,000 on this position. We made a jump of $1,700 in revenue with that jump of $31,000. I’m not sure it’s proving itself financially.”
Fellow budget committee member Ron Bersin hinted he was giving the position one more year.
“In the next year, we need to prove the need,” Bersin said at the time. “This position needs to create revenue.”
Lore Christopher suggested giving Bouvier more marketing money to help bring more events into the community center.
“We need to give her the tools,” Christopher said at the time. “And we’ve got to get on the government agencies who are taking advantage of the low rates. That program was designed for local non-profits with a $20,000 total budget, not state agencies.”