Tuesday, January 16, 2018
News Roundup

New Port Richey mulls options to boost rec center's revenue

NEW PORT RICHEY — As the city's recreation center continues to lose money, officials are considering hiring a marketing director to enhance the facility's profile and drum up more memberships.

The New Port Richey Recreation and Aquatic Center on Van Buren Street — long dubbed the "Jewel of the City" — posted losses again last year. The city collected $453,000 in revenue but spent more than $1 million to run it. The center, which opened in 2007 with $320,000 in revenue and $789,609 in expenditures, has never come close to breaking even.

The numbers led the city to spend $15,000 for a consultant, Ballard*King and Associates, to conduct a marketing study. The City Council on Tuesday received a sobering draft of the study that outlines the need for change.

Ballard's report found rays of hope, with revenues increasing since the center opened. By 2020, however, the consultant projected that the gap between revenue and operating costs could reach $1 million, and New Port Richey "could potentially be facing a crisis as the recreation center losses continue to mount." The best the city can hope for is 50 to 60 percent cost recovery over the next three to five years, according to the study.

Ballard's study suggested ramping up marketing efforts to increase revenue, so city officials are now looking at creating a marketing budget to be used solely for the promotion of the center. That budget would include hiring a marketing director, as the study also found that the center is struggling for recognition in the area.

The study found that with about 80 percent of the center's memberships held by city residents, New Port Richey could do more to market the center to people living outside the city limits. Mayor Bob Consalvo suggested a strong marketing effort in the county within a 10- to 12-mile radius of the center.

"I'm in favor of doing anything we can to keep it open," said Consalvo, who oversaw efforts to build the rec center when he served as parks and recreation director. "We haven't done the advertising needed to really promote it. It's a fabulous facility, and we need to let people know it's there."

The study also asked for input from the city about the possibility of changing the fee structure, which charges non-city residents more for memberships.

Non-resident rates for membership that are considerably higher than the rates charged to residents can discourage participation, according to a report to the council by New Port Richey parks and recreation director Elaine Smith and City Manager John Schneiger.

Amenities and operations could also be altered to save money and garner interest, with Smith and Schneiger seeking expansion of the fitness area to include more equipment and establish a child watch area. Also, the volume and the use of the aquatic facility do not justify keeping all of the pools open for six months out of the year, according to their report.

Schneiger said staffers will come up with a plan for a marketing budget and will bring the matter to the council, possibly next month.



The New Port Richey Recreation and Aquatic Center at 6630 Van Buren St. includes a lap pool (open weather permitting), a children's pool and a dive and plunge pool with a 25-foot-tall slide (open seasonally); a 14,400-square-foot basketball gymnasium; a fitness center with more than two dozen pieces of exercise equipment; and activity rooms that host everything from cheerleading to karate. Membership prices vary. For more information call (727) 841-4560 or visit http://tinyurl.com/npr-rec.

Comments
In major shift, House bill would turn three USF universities into one

In major shift, House bill would turn three USF universities into one

By Claire McNeillTimes Staff WriterSeparate accreditation has long been a point of pride and a stamp of independence for the St. Petersburg and Sarasota-Manatee branches of the University of South Florida. Graduates of those schools frame diplomas be...
Updated: 14 minutes ago
Captain credited with smart, fast decisions in Port Richey casino boat fire

Captain credited with smart, fast decisions in Port Richey casino boat fire

PORT RICHEY — Michael Batten, the captain of the casino shuttle boat that caught fire Sunday afternoon, made smart, fast decisions that saved lives, according to a spokeswoman for the boat’s owner.Batten, captain of the Island Lady, decided against h...
Updated: 19 minutes ago
Here’s the backstory of the Pasco casino boat operator whose ship caught on fire

Here’s the backstory of the Pasco casino boat operator whose ship caught on fire

By Zachary T. SampsonTimes Staff WriterLong before a shuttle ship from Tropical Breeze Casino caught fire Sunday off the coast of Port Richey, leaving one passenger dead, the company behind the operation was a source of controversy.The casino operato...
Updated: 19 minutes ago

Updated: 27 minutes ago
Thanks to Hurricane Irma, there’s a pass at Shell Key again

Thanks to Hurricane Irma, there’s a pass at Shell Key again

By CRAIG PITTMANTimes Staff WriterAT THE SHELL KEY PRESERVE — From a boat puttering along in the water, the sandy beach seems to go on and on. Then, abruptly, it ends at a mass of tangled, overturned mangroves where a great blue heron sits on an expo...
Updated: 1 hour ago
School board member is ‘dumbfounded’ by Times report on Hillsborough substitute teachers

School board member is ‘dumbfounded’ by Times report on Hillsborough substitute teachers

By Marlene SokolTimes Staff WriterTAMPA — The Hillsborough County School District should reconsider how it hires substitute teachers, and that conversation should happen publicly, School Board member Lynn Gray said Tuesday.Responding to a Tampa Bay ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Raymond James advice for small to mid-sized companies about activist shareholders? Prepare and listen

Raymond James advice for small to mid-sized companies about activist shareholders? Prepare and listen

Shareholder fights between activist investors and publicly traded companies are getting nastier, especially in some industries, and a lot of them don’t involve corporate giants like General Motors and Procter & Gamble.In 2015, according to Raymond Ja...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Column: Our elections are in danger. Congress must defend them.

By Marco Rubioand Chris Van HollenWhile the 2016 election may have left our country divided on many issues, it exposed one critical problem that should unite all Americans: Our democratic process is vulnerable to attacks by hostile foreign powers. As...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Fake Twitter account claims Florida lottery winner will pay for retweets

Fake Twitter account claims Florida lottery winner will pay for retweets

Plenty of us daydreamed about what they would do if they scored a $451 million Mega Millions jackpot, as 20-year-old Shane Missler did last week.That curiosity was heightened after a Twitter account, purportedly belonging to Missler, touted that he w...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Dow bursts through 26,000 in record seven trading days

Dow bursts through 26,000 in record seven trading days

The Dow Jones industrial average blew past 26,000 Tuesday for the first time ever, coming only a week after hitting 25,000 and showing further evidence that the long-running bull market is alive and well."There are several reasons for markets to melt...
Updated: 2 hours ago