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Alerus Center submits new budget

Grand Forks' Alerus Center will likely make less money in 2012 and plans to spend less in response, its Executive Director Cheryl Swanson told City Council members Monday after presenting them with a proposed budget different from the one she pre...

Grand Forks' Alerus Center will likely make less money in 2012 and plans to spend less in response, its Executive Director Cheryl Swanson told City Council members Monday after presenting them with a proposed budget different from the one she presented in June.

The latest proposed budget included $4.1 million in revenues, about $197,000 less than in June. Expenses were cut to produce a balanced budget.

This year's budget included $4.2 million in revenues, but trouble booking concerts and other events in the arena had led Swanson to warn of losses of about $270,000 by year's end.

There's a relationship between those losses and next year's lower revenues: Both are caused by suite holders and advertisers with 10-year contracts declining to renew. February 2011 marked the city-owned events center's 10-year anniversary.

Swanson said the June budget assumed that more of those contracts would be renewed, but that turned out not to be the case. To cut expenses next year, she said she won't be replacing several employees that retired or left this year.

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Fulltime labor costs dropped from $1.2 million in the June budget to $1.1 million.

Members of the Finance Committee on Monday noticed some other changes, including a reduction in the marketing and advertising budget from $133,000 to $102,000.

Council President Hal Gershman said this could be dangerous because it would reduce the Alerus Center's profile outside the region. He said he knows management is under pressure to perform financially, and he doesn't know what the answer is, but a business can't be successful cutting expenses alone.

Finance Committee Chairman Doug Christensen echoed that, saying management should be aiming to increase revenue.

Swanson indicated she is trying. The Alerus Center is within a week or two of announcing a fall concert series, she said.

That's part of management's strategy to aim for more of the smaller and older acts that can still draw a crowd, as opposed to aiming for only major acts. Smaller acts, such as classic rock bands, don't drive as hard a bargain as superstars.

Online

- To see the June budget, go to: tinyurl.com/aleruscenter062011

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- To see the latest budget, go to: tinyurl.com/aleruscenter082011

Reach Tran at (701) 780-1248; (800) 477-6572, ext. 248; or send email to ttran@gfherald.com .

Related Topics: GRAND FORKS CITY COUNCIL
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