Civic center revenue rises

By Gabriel Monte: CNJ staff writer

City commissioners knew all along the Clovis Civic Center was not going to make money, at least not in the first few years.

However, the good news is revenue is up 22 percent since the fiscal year started in July, according to Civic Center General Manager Neil McMullin.

McMullin presented a report on the center’s finances in the first half of the fiscal year during Thursday’s City Commission meeting.

McMullin said the $6 million center, which opened in 2006, booked 135 events from July through December, which is 20 more than during the same period last year. Events at the center generated $352,140 in the first half of the 2007-2008 fiscal year, which is $63,208 more than last year.

Still, the center is projected to lose about $250,000 this fiscal year. Last year, the civic center lost about $265,000 though it was projected to lose about $400,000.

“Civic and convention centers operate at a deficit, at least 99.5 percent of them do,” said McMullin, who works for Philadelphia-based Global Spectrum, which is contracted to run the center.

Mayor Pro tem Randy Crowder noted the center increased its revenues despite a soft economy when gross receipt taxes are down.

“We’re down 58.5 percent (in building permits in the third quarter compared to last year) and the city’s gross receipt tax income is down, and yet that civic center produced a 22 percent increase; that is excellent management,” he said.

McMullin said he does see the center making money in the future, but did not offer a timeline. He said the events at the center benefit the city in revenues from taxes such as gross receipts and lodger’s taxes.

Commissioner Bobby Sandoval said while he hopes the center breaks even, it was never expected to be an income generator.

“We knew going into it that we were going to be losing money for the first few years,” he said. “And it might not ever be a money maker, but we’ve got to consider that this is something that we got for a better quality of life for the people of the city and sometimes that costs a little bit of money.”

At Thursday’s City Commission meeting, commissioners also:

— Approved polling places, precincts and translators for the March 4 Municipal Election.
For more information on polling places and precincts, voters can call the city clerk’s office at 763-9632.

— Approved to reauthorize the use of $200,000 from the general funds for road improvements in the city. The money was earmarked for construction of an overpass on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

— Approved disbursement of $12,000 in Lodger’s Tax funds:
— Clovis MainStreet will receive $5,000 for its Spring Fling on April 4.
— Joe’s Boot Shop will receive $9,500 for advertising materials for its fourth annual calf roping event.
— The Chamber of Commerce will receive about $9,500 for brochures and other promotional items.