The city of Brainerd has started its process of balancing the budgets of the Brainerd Area Civic Center and the Gold Medal Arena.
The city council Monday unanimously approved notifying Minnesota Hockey Camps that the city would terminate its contract in six months in order to negotiate a new contract with the camp for 2008. The hockey camp will continue to operate this year.
The council's decision was part of a process to reduce costs and increase revenue at the Brainerd Area Civic Center and Gold Medal Arena after the city was informed by the State Auditor's Office that it should find a way to balance the arena's fund. The arena fund is in a $26,000 deficit this year, not counting depreciation.
Also being considered: Reducing personnel at the facility by switching employees to the parks department budget.
"Usage is going down, revenue is going down and expenses are going up, council member and Personnel and Finance Committee Chairman Mark O'Day said during the Personnel and Finance Committee meeting preceding Monday's council meeting.
Chuck Grillo, operator of Minnesota Hockey Camps, said that despite adding staffers, doing more promotion and putting more money into the camp, attendance numbers were down last year. He said he's hoping it's not a trend because the camp is one of the best in the country and a benefit for the entire area.
"We'll be lucky to keep this camp alive, I'll be honest with you," Grillo said. "If our camp goes, you go. You'll have to go and find another camp."
"Or leave (the arenas) without ice for the summer," O'Day responded.
Declining revenue is mainly due to less ice time purchased from MHC and the Brainerd School District, City Administrator Dan Vogt said.
Vogt said that in talking with the State Auditor's Office, he learned that it is not uncommon for arenas to be in a financial deficit, and other city funds could be used to correct that deficit. Vogt also said that outside of its recommendations, the State Auditor's Office had no further jurisdiction over the city concerning the arena fund.
Other suggested ideas to balance the fund included improved marketing of the arena and approaching other area communities who use the arenas to see if they would provide funding.
The council Monday also approved by a 6-1 vote a one-year contract extension with Brainerd Amateur Hockey Association to use the arenas. Olson, who voted against approval, suggested tabling the motion until June 1 to allow the city to correct the issues brought forward by the State Auditor's Office, but his motion died for lack of a second.
MATT ERICKSON can be reached at email@example.com or 855-5857.
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