by Dennis Dalman
The operational revenue-expense balance of the new Sartell Community Center is going “extremely well and right on target,” said Sartell Finance Director Heidi Ostlie.
In an interview with the Newsleader, Ostlie said both expenditures and revenues are just about where they are expected to be, based on projections during the planning of the center.
The long-planned center cost about $11 million, money from the city’s share of the regional half-cent sales tax revenue. It opened in October 2017 in south Sartell, and during that first month there were no fees or charges for people to use it.
Revenue at the center comes primarily from rentals and fees from people and groups who use the rooms, the several gyms and the elevated walking track.
For this year, $102,750 in anticipated revenue was expected in the budget for the center. From the fourth quarter of last year and the first three quarters of this year, revenues from the center totaled $126,905, Ostlie noted – nicely ahead of budget.
Expenditures for 2018 totaled $344,200. The cost to the city of running the center for 2018, after revenue is taken into consideration, will likely be about $230,000 by end of year, Ostlie said. And that is no surprise, she noted, because from the beginning, the center, like other cities’ community centers, was not expected to be a totally self-supporting facility – rather a city-supported recreational amenity budgeted through the Parks and Recreation Department’s general fund.
“For the first three quarters of 2018, our expenses are at 74.76 percent of the annual budget, and that is right on track of what was expected,” Ostlie said.
At some Sartell City Council meetings, a few members raised concerns about some amenities at the center, such as the suites and party rooms, not attracting enough users who would pay rental fees. However, council members tended to agree that as more people and groups learn of the convenience of using those amenities, use will increase and revenues will be enhanced.
Ostlie agreed the Sartell Community Center is becoming a popular place for residents and out-of-town visitors, especially in the colder months, based on comments she’s heard.
Ostlie, who lives in Perham, said community centers, including one in Perham, have been very successful because they bring a “great feeling of community” to the people who frequent them.
“I just went to the community center in Detroit Lakes with my sister-in-law and my niece where we had a birthday party for my niece,” she said. “We had a lot of fun. We rented a little room there for the party, and the kids had a good time playing.”