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Phtoo: Sarasota County

 

The Venice Community Center has lost over $230,000 in the past year, is the city ready to absorb the losses when they take it over from the county in 2024?

Francesco Abbruzzino, The Uncensored Report, LLC

 

** Update ** Ed Lavallee called me back today and corrected the record. The contract extension is for 10 years, so the contract ends in 2029, which a lot more sense on why the council has not acted. He had originally told me that the date was 2024 and that is the concern with the feasibility study. Frank.
 
As many of you may or may not know, the City of Venice basically has to take over the operation of the Venice Community Center in October of 2024.  There was supposed to be a feasibility study on the operation of the center, but it was never conducted.  I talked in detail about it to the City Manager (Ed Lavallee) yesterday and he hopes to start some planning next year.   One of the issues revolves around the county and getting more information on the transfer and specifics, with Wellfield, the community center, and some of the other parks.

 

One of the big concerns revolves around the cost of the community center.  Some have asked if it is needed, with the performing arts center, especially if it is losing so much money.  This is something the city will look at during a feasibility study.  Ed Lavallee reminded me that the county was losing money operating the EMS for the City of Venice, since the city took it over, they have been doing pretty well with the services.  Crediting their ability to collect on insurance claims that are billed out.  The big question with the center revolves around the revenue and expenditures.  Is the county really losing money, how much and is there a way for the City of Venice to take over operations without the same loses.

 

I requested the revenue and expenditures from the Clerk of Circuit Court and County Comptroller.  Yes, they manage the budget and not the county.  The Finance Compliance Manager sent me the 10.1.21 through 9.20.22 revenue and expenditure numbers, which you can read by clicking — >> here.

 

The county took in $158,185 in revenues form the center over the past year.  However, their expenditures came to $392,829 over the past year.  That equates to a sizeable loss of $234,643 during the roughly one-year time line.  The losses are less than expected, but they are significant and the council needs to start some discussions with the county, regarding the direction the city will go with the Community Center.  One piece of the puzzle is a feasibility study.  Will the study indicate that the city can make money?  Will it suggest closing down the center or continue absorbing the significant losses?

 

Instead of next year, this is a complex issue the city should be working through already.  I believe the council directed the City Manager to conduct a feasibility study, which was not performed.  I see this a lot on the council, the lack of leadership.  It has gone from a council that directs the City Manager while Holic was in office, to a council that is directed by the City Manager under Feinsod and the current City Council.  Many issues like this community center issue have not been acted upon and are falling through the cracks.

 

Thoughts?

 

 

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