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Levitt, committee disagree on revenue

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September 11, 2010
— The Janesville Ice Rink Advisory Committee at Monday’s council meeting will present figures showing that the city could support an arena with two sheets of ice, but City Manager Eric Levitt in a memo said he doubts some of the assumptions.

The council agreed in October to match $2 million raised by a private fundraising group. And, it agreed to chip in $500,000 for a second sheet if the group raised an additional $1.5 million.


The private fundraising group believes the city could support two sheets.


A consultant hired by the council said the city’s subsidy would increase with two sheets, and Levitt agrees. He has said two sheets also would increase the cost of ice for users groups. He has said it’s not fair to increase services for one constituency when a tight budget promises cuts elsewhere.


Projected revenue from ice arena users groups in 2010 are estimated at $254,000, and the advisory committee estimates two sheets could bring in $203,500 more.


Levitt said the rink operates close to capacity for four months and at 70 to 80 percent capacity another two months. He said a more realistic expectation would be an increase of $100,000 to $120,000 based on increasing use by five hours per day every day during the four highest-use months and some increase in use the two other months.


Differences in opinion include:


-- The committee estimates that with two sheets of ice youth hockey could expand its use by 394 hours per year for $149,000 in revenue, an increase of $65,000. The club would increase practice times for current teams and add a midget team.


“However, youth hockey is a cyclical business … and records show that revenues dropped from $99,000 to $63,000 over a five-year period in the mid-2000s,” Levitt said. “It is difficult to tell what the sustainability will be.”


-- The committee estimates an increase of $25,000 from the Bluebirds high school hockey team.


Levitt said the city’s contract with the school does not provide revenues. If the contract changes, the revenue would be there for a one-sheet scenario, as well.


-- The figure skaters estimate they could increase revenue from $12,000 to $80,000.


Levitt said that appears to be based on more coaches and skaters but does not give guarantees.


Levitt also recommends that the council get a financial commitment from the fundraising group by year’s end. The council must decide whether to instead put $1 million in the existing facility.


IF YOU GO

The Janesville City Council will meet at 7 p.m. Monday in City Hall, 18 N. Jackson St. Residents can speak informally to council members at 6 p.m.


Scheduled are:


-- A public hearing and vote on an ordinance to match state law regulating firearms. City ordinances prohibit residents from carrying dangerous weapons. Under state law, residents can openly carry firearms under certain circumstances. A public hearing is scheduled but, in this case, the ordinance must reflect state law.


-- A public hearing on an ordinance to give reduced bus fare tokens to the Janesville School District. The city currently makes up to 5,000 tickets available to non-profit agencies. The district has asked that the city allow the district to give reduced fare to students who need help getting to school but do not qualify for other transportation assistance. The administration recommends extending the program and believes enough of the 5,000 tickets are available to meet the need.


-- Consideration to spend $45,000 to improve the Traxler Park ice skating rink. Currently, workers spray water on the land rink, sometimes getting paid overtime to do it. The money would be used to build a berm around the pond to hold water, forming ice when temperatures allow. The size of the rink would be increased, and the ice would be thicker and better withstand temperature changes.


-- Approval of a new contract with Wisconsin Hockey Partners, which owns the Janesville Jets. Some suggested modifications include increasing the time in which to sell beer and lowering the attendance threshold after which the Jets would be forgiven rent or be allowed to break the contract. During the Jets’ first year, City Manager Eric Levitt said the financial impact of the Jets on the city has been a bit more positive than neutral. The city has lost revenue because open skate is not available during home games. But it has gained revenue because the Jets rent ice on off-peak hours, such as during the school day, Levitt said. He hopes summer camps will increase in the future to bring in more revenue. The city also gets a cut of the concession sales. While open skate opportunities are reduced, the Jets bring people downtown and provides an alternative entertainment choice for residents, Levitt said.



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