5 things to know about the proposed Mayo Civic Center study
Amid concerns of Mayo Civic Center’s continued reliance on lodging tax funds, the Rochester City Council is being asked to approve an eight-month look at current operations and possible changes.
Rochester City Administrator Steve Rymer is suggesting hiring Jones Lang LaSalle Americas Inc. to perform the assessment, which could cost as much as $94,500 — $85,000 for the consulting fee and up to $9,500 in expenses.
The firm’s executive vice president, Dan Fenton, will lead the effort, bringing knowledge from a similar study he conducted in 2013.
"He steps in with a great foundation and understanding of the facility," Rymer said, noting the goals of the new study will be to enhance market competitiveness, optimize use of the facility, maximize revenues and limit annual public costs.
Here are five more things to know about the proposed study:
Study follows increasing reliance on lodging tax.
Mayo Civic Center revenue for 2017 was $3.5 million, with $5.2 million in expenses, requiring $1.7 million from lodging tax funds, which are paid by guests in Rochester’s hotels and motels.
Forecasts show the annual reliance on the lodging tax is expected to increase, reaching an estimated $2.5 million by 2023.
Consultant will be paid through a Mayo Civic Center fund.
Rymer is suggesting the study be funded using the center’s unreserved fund balance, which is currently $200,000.
Since the civic center has traditionally budgeted for using a portion of the 7 percent lodging tax, it has reported net gains in the past.
In 2016, a $186,000 net gain was reported, with $1.54 million of the year’s revenue coming from the local lodging tax.
Rymer said he continues to study how such funds are designated in various city departments, but noted the civic center fund appears to be the best source for funding the planned study.
3. The study is not an audit.
"I would not consider this an audit, but more of an overall comprehensive review and analysis," Rymer said
Fenton will look at current sales practices to get a glimpse at future financial potential for the center. That information will be used to develop models for future efforts to meet new goals.
4. The ideal goal would be to end reliance on tax dollars.
"I’m not sure if any models can achieve that or not," Rymer said. "The council hasn’t specifically said that, but I think just being good stewards of public funds, that’s always a goal to strive for."
He said future use of tax funds should be used to achieve community goals that optimize use of the facility.
5. Arena talk is not necessarily dead.
On Monday, Council Member Michael Wojcik asked whether the proposed study would end discussion of replacing Taylor Arena until the study is completed, which would likely be in January 2019, based on the proposed timeline.
"I wouldn’t characterize it as ‘completely dead,’" said Council President Randy Staver, picking up Wojcik’s wording. "I think it’s a valid question."
While no other council members voiced an opinion in either direction, Staver said he’s not ready to rule out any options if future opportunities arise.
"It is not under consideration at this point," he added.
The council has postponed a decision on forming a task force to study arena options, agreeing not to consider the issue until two members ask to restart the discussion.