NEW GLASGOW The Pictou County Wellness Centre is still operating in the red, but gains are being made to lower its $800,000 annual deficit, says its general manager.
David Hood said Tuesday that despite the fact the centre ended its 2015-2016 operating budget with a $870,095 deficit, he is expecting better results in the future in part because of its ability to curb its power bill.
Financial statements, which will be released by the PCWC authority this week, show the centre generated $990,577 in revenue – a $25,560 increase over the previous year. Revenue had increased the most in facility rentals and community room rentals.
“The big piece has been our community room rentals,” Hood said. “We have seen it grow to a point now where we are consistently booking meetings, weddings and events on a regular basis. This is one area we focused on and saw positive results.”
On the expenses side of things, utilities came in at $765,115, which was slightly higher than last year’s bill of $745,849. Other slight increases were seen in repairs, maintenance and events. However, there were decreases in areas such as salaries, food and beverage costs, sales and marketing, office supplies, communications a well as supplies and professional fees. Total expenses came in at just over $2 million for the 2015-2016 year.
Hood said there is no denying the electricity bill is the facility’s largest expense, but it has taken steps since January to work on this problem and that will be reflected at the end of the 2016-2017 fiscal year.
The authority commissioned a study that involved resetting all the equipment and control systems back to their original settings so the building can run as it was designed to work. Hood said this has shown immediate improvements in the refrigeration system and run times for the compressors.
“As we make our way through each season this fiscal year, we are seeing the results of everything being stripped back. We had some issues in the summer and fall we are trying to work through and we see that further work can be done.”
However, he said, with only four months left in the 2016-2017 fiscal year, the PCWC is currently $100,000 below its operating budget.
Hood said there is no quick fix to bringing the deficit down nor does he believe it will ever operate without one, but there are efforts being made to get the building to work more efficiently and focus on areas that will bring in revenue.
Trenton Mayor Shannon MacInnis was named chair of the Pictou County Wellness Centre Authority and New Glasgow Mayor Nancy Dicks is the vice-chair.
MacInnis said taking on the chair’s position is a large task considering its financial problems in the past, but he is encouraged by the fact that everyone is on the same page.
“We know we have a job to do to try and bring this to a reasonable working number,” he said.
The new board, which is made up of mayors from Trenton, Pictou, New Glasgow and Stellarton as well as the warden from the Municipality of County of Pictou, will meet again in January to start generating new ideas.
During Monday’s county council meeting, Warden Robert Parker said a new board has been appointed to the authority and it will look at new ideas on tackling the deficit.
“We will look at it in January and see what we can do in the short term and long term,” he said when asked by councillors what is being done to reduce the operating deficit.
He said some gains have been made in keeping the deficit close to the same number as last year, but more needs to be done.
As a result the municipalities will need to cover the deficit, which is divided between the units based on an agreed percentage.
Pictou will pay $42,734, New Glasgow $374,836, Stellarton $313,864, Trenton $58,900 and the County of Pictou $269,955. The deed transfer tax, which is collected by all municipal units, is used to fund the capital contribution every year.
What brought in the most money in 2015-2016:
Facility rentals – $521,735
Food and beverage – $208,727
Community room rentals – $40,104
Total revenue: $990,577
What cost the most money in 2015-2016:
Utilities – $765,115
Salaries – $531, 612
Repairs and maintenance – $241,228
Total expenses: 2,069,215