Finance Committee makes recommendations on Memorial Hall proposal | Local News
A city finance committee tasked with reviewing the feasibility study for a renovated Memorial Hall found the revenue forecast to be realistic, but also recommended that the city design a marketing plan.
Committee co-chairs Tom Franz and Russ Alcorn spoke at a Joplin City Council meeting on May 10 about the details of the committee’s recommendation and how it was worded.
The city hired two companies, SFS Architecture Inc. of Kansas City and Ballard King & Associates of Highland Park, Colorado, to prepare the feasibility study.
SFS looked at the potential uses of the hall and spaces, then created renderings of what those spaces might look like with a proposed annex on the west side of the building.
The companies recommended a $ 25 million plan to repair and renovate the hall. The design requires flexible spaces that include accommodations for stage performances, meeting rooms, banquets, recreation programs and a variety of other events.
The council next Monday will consider whether to approve proposed voting wording that would ask voters next April to approve up to $ 30 million in general bonds for the project.
City finance director Leslie Haase said the city’s bonding consultants recommended asking voters for more than the estimated $ 25 million construction costs because projects can lead to unforeseen expenses. She said that the recent increases of 250%. One example is 100 of the price of lumber.
If voters approve, the bond debt would be paid by the assessment of property taxes and personal property taxes. This could produce tax bills of $ 55.10 per $ 100,000 of market value on real estate and $ 19.23 for a $ 20,000 vehicle.
The finance manager also had to determine whether business taxes would be included in those that would have to be paid. A four-sevenths majority vote, or 57.14%, of Joplin residents would be required for approval.
The two co-chairs told the board that the finance committee concluded that the revenue forecast for a renovated room was realistic and discussed the process used to make that decision.
Franz said the committee did not assess construction and renovation costs. It’s something city officials can do, he said.
“And we haven’t addressed the feasibility of the project,” he said. “We are not marketing experts. We have no idea how many people would be using the facility, so what we did was spoke to the consultants who did the study and we spoke to the city staff. We tried to assess the process they went through, and based on that process, did we think the results were reasonable?
“As a committee, we agreed that the driving force behind the whole renovation was the revenue the project would generate. We focused a lot on whether Memorial Hall, when renovated, would be able to generate the revenue that the study indicated it would, ”said Franz.
The project consultants had two different analyzes to determine the potential revenues from the operation of the halls. They used a conservative and aggressive approach.
“City staff and consultants felt the aggressive numbers were unrealistic initially, so we focused on the conservative revenues, which were around $ 285,000 per year,” Franz said.
The aggressive plan, which could involve hiring a paid marketer, would potentially generate up to $ 610,000, according to the feasibility study, but the committee wasn’t sure because it didn’t have the money. adequate historical information on past room receipts. In recent years, incomes have been modest, the committee said. But city staff told the finance committee they believed operating income would fall between the conservative and aggressive ranges. There isn’t much information on running costs due to the hall’s lack of activity in recent years, according to the city.
Committee members then reviewed the sources of income identified in the study.
These show possible programs that could be offered by the Parks and Recreation Department that could generate fees such as dance and fitness classes as well as sports such as basketball, volleyball, pickleball, golf. indoor hockey and futsal. A designated meeting room for the American Legion would also be included with the option to use this executive meeting space when not in use for Legion meetings.
Rental spaces that would be available include the stage, kitchen, main auditorium floor, meeting rooms in the hall and in the annex, a dance studio and the complete hall or the complete annex or the whole building. These rental rates could vary from $ 50 per hour for a meeting room to $ 2,500 for the use of the stage for a production.
The room rental rate before the city closed it due to a partial ceiling collapse was $ 1,000 per day and $ 250 per day for nonprofits. With the renovation, a rate of $ 4,500 could be charged for the rental of the complete room and the annex, according to the study.
Rental uses could include activities such as concerts, plays, post-prom and post-graduation events, youth and adult sports, rodeos, circuses, dancing , exhibitions, weddings, craft shows and gun shows.
“We were sure the city could promote recreational events,” Franz said. “Our main concern was meeting space as the city has not experimented with renting meeting space. Staff at City Hall and the Conventon and Visitors Bureau offered to develop a rental plan and talk to other cities about it.
But the finance committee supports the project.
“First, we felt that a community center was important for the city. Besides the goals outlined in the study, a facility like this is important for emergency use for things like the tornado (2011), ”said Franz.
It served as a place of treatment for the injured as the Freeman Hospital was overwhelmed and the St. John’s Regional Medical Center was so badly damaged that it could not be used.
“We felt the conservative approach was reasonable because it could generate revenues in the order of $ 285,000, at least initially,” said Franz.
The committee also made additional findings.
If the renovation plan goes ahead, the city should develop a marketing plan to generate revenue for other recreation programs, the report said. When developing this plan, city officials should talk to other cities that operate event spaces to determine best practices for marketing the spaces.
In response to the committee’s report, Councilor Phil Stinnett said that after observing the committee’s work on the mission, “I think the city should respect that we got a legitimate report. They asked a lot of questions. They diligently sought answers. I think the report is legitimate. But it all depends on the ability to market it effectively. It gives me a sense of comfort that another group has looked into this issue. “
Finance committee co-chair Alcorn said the committee also recommends that the city have a plan to make repairs and updates to the hall after investing so much, if the proposal is approved by voters.
“We need to have money set aside in a contingency fund so that we don’t end up in this situation,” Alcorn said of the current state of the room.
City staff will consider whether tax credits would be available and could be used to create some type of endowment fund for this purpose, he said.
City staff are also investigating parking options for the lobby. The committee recommends that council allocate funds within the cost of the project for the development of the parking lot.
Mayor Ryan Stanley asked where the committee found comparable figures for other cities that rent meeting space.
“We didn’t really find a comparables,” Alcorn said. “We asked the consultants, and they didn’t have any.”
Members of the finance committee investigated a list of 10 towns similar to Joplin, but found that none operated buildings where they rented meeting space, he said.
Committee representatives were asked if they knew why the city should provide meeting space. They said Memorial Hall consultants asked in one of the public surveys whether meeting space was needed “and one of the highest response rates was that it would be used and after speaking to people, they came to the conclusion that we needed a meeting space. Said Alcorn.