Western Nebraska Observer - Observations all along the line - Kimball & the Southern Panhandle First

Council considers Event Center's future, $1.6 M landfill cell

 


The Kimball City Council met on July 11 to discuss, among other things, the future of the Kimball Event Center as the municipality enters the 2017-2018 budget planning period.

During the budgeting process last year, with much input from the public, the City chose to continue subsidizing the event center for another year, though at a decreased amount.

Special Projects Coordinator Amy Sapp presented a fiscal report to the board highlighting the Event Center’s growth with subsidies from the local Keno Grant, the Board of Public Works, as well as, from local sales and occupation taxes.

The current profit and loss statement prepared by Sapp show a significant increase in revenue but perhaps the most significant changes were highlighted in a different report, outlining the changes that have been made to the facility.

The Event Center Director position was eliminated and a part-time coordinator was hired instead, saving more than $20,000 in salary alone.

A more consistent rental process and concise reports have increased accountability for the operation and maintenance of the facility, which was deeply cleaned and organized. Additionally, the Meadowlark Room was repainted and the lighting was updated.

“I know last year during budget, information could not be shared for what we were making for each event,” Sapp said. “There wasn’t really any answers for anything.”

Sapp reported that current sales now include credit/debit sales option and a new sales register gives an accurate report of liquor sales.

The Kimball Event Center committee has found new revenue streams as well, including donations, ticket sales and equipment/supply rentals.

“Equipment and Supply rental was created in June after a woman told us that she normally just borrowed chairs and tables in the past,” Sapp reported. “We came up with an equipment rental form and pricing.”

Currently the team is creating a pricing schedule for rental supplies such as chair covers, table clothes, chaffing dishes and roasters, according to Sapp.

Council member Christy Warner, who also sits on the Event Center Committee, raised again the value of combining services such as the public library and the event center.

“We are getting to the point where we have to combine services,” she said. “We have to learn to do more with less.”

In the end, it comes down to marketing the facility, and the Kimball Event Center team continues to come up with new ideas to bring people into Kimball. They share these events on their Facebook page, through fliers and in the newspaper.

“A year ago James Schnell was asking ‘Love it or list it,’ and I was leaning very strongly towards listing it,” Board of Public Works President Jim Cederburg said. “Now it is significantly different, the Event Center is really important to the culture and in my opinion it doesn’t have to break even. The numbers we used to look at were unacceptable. It has definitely changed my attitude towards keeping it.”

A new digital marquee was discussed for the future of the Event Center, should the facility become even more solvent. Council will make final decisions regarding subsidizing facilities as they finalize the 2017-18 budget.

Council also discussed capital items needed soon, beginning with a new cell at the Kimball Landfill within the next 2 to 3 years, according to City Administrator Dan Dean, who added that the cell that was completed last year was just one third of a cell.

“Our cell 2 has about 2.5 year life left on it,” Dean said. “So we need to start planning (to dig a new one) now. We did get an engineers estimate – it was $1.6 million.”

“Push recycling,” council member Kim Baliman said.

Vehicles take up a large part of the capital items list, including a new digger truck, a backhoe for the water department, a pickup for the cemetery and the Kimball Police Department has $60,000 budgeted this coming year for another new fleet vehicle under capital items.

“We are looking at a digger truck for $250,000. We need to think about that and get more information,” Prunty said. “My idea for a capital improvement project would be the new backhoe for the water department, which is 30 years old.”

The digger truck, a 1994, may have to wait, as brakes on the backhoe are bad, as are the hydraulics, according to Prunty, who added that it is a safety concern in his opinion.

“No one told me how we were going to fund this list. To me the five year capital list is more of a wish list instead of a real budget list,” Dean said. “For a capital budget, you need one that is fundable. We need to set money aside for it.”

The Underpass project is still on the capital project list as is the water tower project. Baliman added that the aging Kimball Swimming Pool will need to be replaced soon.

“It doesn’t last forever,” Baliman said. “I do think we made a mistake making admission $1.25, I think we should charge $2 next year.”

Looking forward to strategic planning Council discussed becoming Leadership Certified and further considered a detailed strategic plan with action items and accountability as well as the state of sidewalks, businesses and increased community pride.

“I would like to consider a more in depth strategic planning process that would require some resources committed to it,” Dean said. “I am a huge proponent of strategic planning, not only coming up with ideas, but a successful strategic plan has an action plan attached to it and people attached to it as well – who is going to do what and when.”

 

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