The Allen County Fort Wayne Capital Improvement Board rejected one appeal for funding and followed through on another at its Thursday morning meeting.The YMCA of Greater Fort Wayne had asked the board for $1 million toward the $14.9 million cost of the Jackson R. Lehman Family YMCA, located near the intersection of St. Joe Center and Maplecrest roads. The board rejected that request. Board member Lisa Starks said that the CIB needs to agree to help fund a project before construction begins. Ground was broken for the new YMCA location last year.
John Stafford, a consultant on government finance who advises the board, said that it’s in question as to whether funding the YMCA request would even be allowed under the legislation that created the CIB.
The board took another step toward paying up to $1 million toward the purchase of the former Casad Depot at New Haven. It authorized a memorandum of understanding between the board and the city of New Haven concerning the board’s contribution toward the purchase of the Casad Depot, now owned by the federal government.Also on Thursday, an update on the financial performance of Memorial Coliseum took a turn to a bigger question. Coliseum General Manager Randy Brown and board member Tim Pape disagreed over priorities in managing the facility.
Brown said that the coliseum turned a small profit – about $44,000 – last year, but said that compares favorably with many cities, where arenas and event centers often need subsidies to operate.
Pape took issue with Brown saying the coliseum operates without subsidies; in fact, it receives more than $5 million in public funding for capital costs, such as paying on debt incurred in construction projects. Brown clarified that he meant only operating expenses when he spoke of operating without subsidy.
Pape suggested that maybe the coliseum should use more public funds for operating expenses if that meant that the facility might attract more people to Fort Wayne with more events. Brown said he’d be open to discussing more funding for operating costs with the board.
Steve Brody, another member of the board, downplayed the likelihood of the CIB finding money to boost the coliseum’s operating budget.
“It is a Capital Improvement Board,” he said.