June 14, 2012WOLFEBORO — Parks and Recreation Director Ethan Hipple presented two options for setting next season's Pop Whalen Ice Arena rates to selectmen at their June 6 meeting.
Hipple noted that arena expenses will be up $27,000 in 2013 due mainly to the debt service on the required fire sprinklers installed in 2011. While he is projecting a surplus of $20,000 in 2012, the increases in 2013 will require a rate increase.
Option A is to increase rates by 15 percent, using existing accounting methodology, which will cover the costs and provide a projected operating margin of $8,600.
Option B is to increase rates by only five percent but retain revenues from winter operations at the rink that are now going into the town's General Fund.
Hipple made it clear he preferred Option B. The difference between the two options is that the arena would retain revenues raised there from renting skates, skating lessons, day and season passes rather than turning them over to the General Fund, as the practice has been. An a town Enterprise, Pop Whalen is supposed to support itself from fees and other revenues and not on property taxes, yet some of its revenues are not going into the Enterprise Fund even though most of the expenses are paid out of that fund.
Hipple said Option B not only had his support, but that of Town Manager Dave Owen and Finance Director Pete Chamberlin.
The difference in hourly rental rates between the two options is that the hourly rental rate under Option A would go from $170 per hour in the prime weekend rate to $195.50. Under Option B the rate would go to $178.50. Each of the other three hourly rates would have a similar difference.
Hipple said he has tried to increase rink utilization to increase revenues but that has not worked out and higher rates won't help. He is optimistic that running programs at the facility in the off season will help revenues more. He is looking into roller hockey, aerial dance classes, birthday parties and, once additional improvements are made, vendor shows.
He also said he will make an effort in the coming season to attract groups looking for ice time out of the area, up to an hour's travel time.
Selectman Chair Linda Murray was concerned with transferring the whole $30,000 to the Enterprise Fund. She asked if it could be $20,000. Also she felt some of the surplus should be earmarked for building upgrades, thus reducing the amount that would have to be bonded.
Hipple responded that an engineer is preparing a proposal to evaluate the Pop Whalen buailding, and that may not result in a need for large projects. He also noted that the rink's Zamboni ice surfacer is 11 years old, so a reserve should be started to replace it when it reaches its expected 20-year life.
Owen remarked that the rink revenues have been going into the General Fund "because we have always done it that way," not for a sound reason. He said if all expenses were paid out of the Enterprise Fund then all revenue should go there as well.
Selectman Dave Senecal said he was concerned whether the revenue could be tracked accurately. Chamberlin responded that he did not see a problem doing that.
Senecal then moved to approve the new rates under Option B and the board voted 4-0 in favor (Selectman Chuck Storm was absent recovering from a knee operation).
Public Works Director Dave Ford gave an update on the Wastewater Treatment Plant and gave an account of the presentation made to Kingswood Regional Middle School seventh graders when they toured the plant.
Selectmen decided that a table and chairs on a public section of a new sidewalk in Depot Square should be removed and replaced with town benches. See separate story.
The board approved Finance Director Chamberlin's proposal to raise $440,000 through a Bond Anticipation Note from Citizens Bank at 0.59 percent interest to avoid cash flow problems in the period from June 8 to Dec. 21, when bond proceeds for three voter-approved projects will be available.
Selectmen approved three changes to the town's personnel policy: revising the procedure for termination following an accident or illness; banning nepotism in all departments, not just those with union employees; and prohibiting town employees to work as contractors for the town.
A check for $10,000 for scholarships to Wolfeboro students has been received from the Josiah Brown Trust. The board reviewed and revised the application forms and approved awarding $1,000 per semester and $2,000 per year to successful applicants.
Selectmen were invited to ride in two 1912 vintage cars in the July 4 parade as part of the Libby Museum 100th Anniversary entry. The Board of Selectmen is the de facto Board of Trustees of the museum.
Owen reported that Wolfeboro has won a recycling award from the Northeast Resource Recycling Association for the fourth year in a row for participating in the great number of recycling programs for a town its size.
The long-delayed wayfinding signs have finally arrived and should be installed by now at Dockside and the Railroad Station. Both a "You Are Here" aerial photos of downtown, showing where major features are located.
Owen also reported that Wolfeboro Fire-Rescue has signed up six new call firefighters as a result of a recruitment campaign.
On Wednesday, June 13, Owen will be attending a meeting on the 30 percent state reduction in wastewater treatment funding. The same afternoon selectmen will attend a meeting with the county on funding country dispatch (a service Wolfeboro does not use).
Bids have been requested for the removal of the former Bun McBride house at 225 South Main Street which was recently purchased after voter approval in March.
A $10,000 check has been received from Metrocast for the public access station, Wolfeboro Community TV. Station Manager Peter Pijoan said the funds would be used to put a lighting grid into the unfurnished new space that the station just moved into at Kingswood. Pijoan happily announced that the "FEMA trailer" that the station has been operating from for 13 months is now gone.
Construction has started on the Public Safety Building and on a new cemetery on Middleton Road.
Selectmen approved temporary event permits for the Wolfeboro Public Library Ice Cream Social on June 23 from noon to 2 p.m. The social is held at the same time as the library's annual book sale.
Also approved was a permit for the first Olympic Day Fun Run, to be held June 23 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. beginning and ending at Brewster Beach and the Wolfeboro Historical Society's Colonial Family Day, to be held July 14 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Clark Park and the society's Clark Museum complex.
Beverly Woods was appointed to the Wolfeboro Energy Committee for three years, even as member Jim Nupp resigned due to other commitments. AN update from the Committee is promised for June 20.
Two appointments were made to the Pathways Committee: George Vanderheiden for two years and Barbara Laverick for one year.
The next meeting of the Wolfeboro Board of Selectmen will be on June 20 at 6:30 p.m. at the Town Hall meeting room.