Anvil Centre will provide a place where residents can enjoy theatre productions, museum displays and banquets - but it comes with a cost.
The City of New Westminster is currently building the multiuse civic facility at Columbia and Eighth streets. The city's draft 2013 to 2017 financial plan anticipates $263,000 in expenses for Anvil Centre in 2013, which is a 0.44 per cent increase to property taxes.
"In 2014, Anvil Centre is coming online and there is significant operating costs that will be contributing to the budget in that year," said Gary Holowatiuk, the city's director of finance and information technology.
In preparation for the opening of Anvil Centre in 2014, the city is recruiting for key management positions in 2013. While those positions are included in the 2013 budget, staff notes that the major budget implications will begin in 2014.
The draft financial plan shows that the centre is expected to have expenses of $1.2 million in 2014, $688,000 in 2015, and $450,000 in 2016 and 2017 - for a cumulative net operating cost of $3 million.
Anvil Centre has been a significant talking point during city council's consideration of the 2013 to 2017 plan. This year's budget includes "rate stabilization reserves" provisions that are intended to minimize the financial impact that the facility has on future budgets. The 2013 budget includes a $400,000 stabilizer that can be used toward a future budget for Anvil Centre, which will see bigger budgets when it opens.
Dean Gibson, the city's director of parks, culture and recreation, said staff have tried to use "the most labour intensive scenario" when budgeting for the centre's operations. Staff will be refining those numbers over the coming year.
Anvil Centre operations will impact the budget in several areas, including: administration and building maintenance; community cultural services (such as the art gallery, museum and archives, art studios, and liaison with the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame); theatre (a 350-seat theatre that could potentially be operated in partnership with the Massey Theatre Society); and conference/business development (including space to accommodate conventions of 500 people) and eight multi-purpose meeting rooms.
"Like many of our operations, the personnel costs are the largest percentage of the budget," Gibson said.
When outlining the proposed budget for Anvil Centre to council as part of the draft 2013 budget, Gibson said it represented one particular operating model, one that is heavily geared toward civic staff performing many of the functions at the centre.
"It is at this stage of the game a point of ongoing discussion, but it does at least give us a reference point from the budget perspective," he said. "We are taking some comfort in that while we are looking at a five-year financial plan, the bulk of the Anvil Centre operations come on-stream in 2014 and we do have some time over the next several months to refine that operating model, and also work with the associated numbers that are there."
Mayor Wayne Wright questioned whether there is staff in existing facilities who will be able to take on some of the duties in the civic centre for a short time before the city commits to staffing in the facility.
The city is currently recruiting for two administrative positions - the facility's general manager, and the sales and marketing manager.
While existing staff will fill some of the roles at Anvil Centre, the civic centre will also require some new staff positions, including a building maintenance supervisor and workers, an arts specialist (director/curator, archivist, and exhibit/perpetrator), a conference duty coordinator who provides support when events are taking place and a conference beverage coordinator.
In addition to the administrative functions that are expected to be filled this year to plan for the facility's operations, more positions will be added in 2014, when the centre is scheduled to open. For the 2013 budget, staff has budgets the general manager and sales/marketing manager's positions at about 50 per cent of their salaries.
"There is also some funding in 2013 to support the building maintenance supervisory function," Gibson added. "It's felt that position does need to have a bit of a longer lead to assist in start-up of the building."
By hiring the building maintenance supervisor this year, Gibson said the person will become familiar with the civic centre's systems and be ready to train and prepare staff when other maintenance staff is hired.
According to budget documents, the city has yet to finalize the operations of the theatre.
"The theatre area, we are talking about a partnership type of arrangement," Gibson said. "That is pending, although we have in the budget anticipated what potential costs might be regardless of whether it is run by city staff or in partnership with others."
Aside from personnel, operating expenses related to Anvil Centre will include costs of operating a facility, such as utilities and office supplies. The centre is also expected to generate revenues through services, such as conferences.
"You will see the revenue line is a fairly modest amount - approximately one-half million dollars coming in over the two-year period of time," Gibson said. "We feel that is one particular number we can do a lot more work on over the coming months when we have the right people in place to be able to do some revenue projections for us. That number today has been based on some studies that were undertaken on behalf of the city a couple of years ago, and also looking at some comparative operations in other jurisdictions."
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