Sep 10, 2012 Jason Emerson Uncategorized
The town-run ice rink at Austin Park Pavilion will begin the 2012 ice season with a loss of more than $11,000 in revenue due to a large reduction in committed rink use hours by community groups. This reality prompted the Skaneateles Town Board at its Sept. 6 meeting to consider the likelihood of reduced general rink hours to save money on staffing costs.
The issue came up as the board considered a YMCA request for a reduced contractual ice rink use rate.
The current contractual ice rate is $95 per hour for anyone other than the community figure skating and hockey programs and the Skaneateles School district, which pay $80 per hour. The YMCA requested it be allowed to pay the $80 rate.
The YMCA’s request led to a board discussion of general rink costs and potential hours of operation for the upcoming season. Town Supervisor Terri Roney told the board that committed ice rink hours by the figure skating and hockey programs are down significantly, from 940 hours last year to 763 hours this year. That reduction translates into a revenue loss of more than $11,000, Roney said.
The issue then for the board was whether to keep the rink open for “empty hours” when the ice is not reserved on the chance that someone may want to come use it. Specifically, the YMCA requested rink use beginning at 6 p.m. on Sunday evenings, but previously committed community group ice use is over by 3 p.m., leaving a three-hour window of empty ice.
“I think it’s really wasteful” to staff for empty time, Roney said. Councilor Steve McGlynn agreed, citing both the reduced demand and the results of a study he commissioned in the spring that showed the town lost slightly more than $1,000 in expenses versus revenues on the ice rink management last year.
McGlynn suggested the town close the ice rink at 3 p.m. on Sundays rather than the usual 5 p.m., to save on staffing costs. Councilor Rick Keyes suggested that when reserving ice time for community groups no gaps be allowed in the schedule, such as the three-hour gap that would occur with a 6 p.m. YMCA time on Sundays.
The board agreed, and directed Parks Department manager Sue Murphy to discuss with the YMCA a different use time, such as 3 p.m. on Sunday or some other time that would not create a gap in the schedule.
As for YMCA’s request for a reduced hourly ice rate, Keyes said the board should check its projected costs per hour before it sets its rate per hour to avoid further revenue losses. McGlynn suggested keeping the hourly rate at $95 for everyone except figure skating and hockey groups, saying it is “not bad” considering that Cicero-North Syracuse charges $125 per hour, and the YMCA itself charges $125 per hour.
The board agreed to delay a decision on the YMCA rate request until it could evaluate its projected costs for the upcoming ice season.
Also at the meeting:
—Codes Officer Debbie Williams said revenues from building permit fees this year are nearly double that of last year, with $51,000 collected so far in 2012 versus $26,263 in 2011. The number of permits issued, however, is only one off from last year, meaning more people are improving their current homes rather than building new homes.
—Budget Officer Bridget Winkelman said it is budget time again for the town, with budget workshop meetings starting this week for individual departments. The tentative town budget should be completed by Sept. 28, Roney said.
—The board announced that it is seeking applications from town residents to fill an unexpired term on the Zoning Board of Appeals, which was made vacant recently by the resignation of Scott Winkelman. The unexpired ZBA term ends Dec. 31, 2016. Applicants must be a town resident. Letters of interest should be sent to Town Supervisor Terri Roney at the town hall by Sept. 28.
—The board unanimously agreed to a request by a group of local athletic booster organizations to erect signs at the town limits designating school sport teams that are state champions. The signs would be posted on the same posts, and be the same color, as the current signs designating the town line.
The booster organizations for the state champion programs of boys soccer, boys and girls lacrosse, boys hockey and the district’s music education program will provide all the funding for the project. They anticipate the erection of between seven and 11 signs.
—The board approved the request of the local store Endurance Monster to hold its Oct. 27 Monster Mash race, with the runners starting at the town garage on Fennell Street and ending at the Endurance Monster store. Race director Eric Prager said last year’s race had 325 people and raised $25,000 that the store gave to charity, and they expect the same type of participation this year. This year’s race proceeds will go to the American Red Cross, he said.
—Roney informed the board that the Mottville Volunteer Fire Company has offered to repair the dilapidated benches at the Mottville playground, at the head of the Charlie Major Nature Trail.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Skaneateles Press. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.