Revenue down for Niles’ fitness center
By JORDAN COHEN
A report issued by the city auditor shows that revenue from the Mayor Ralph A. Infante Wellness Center is falling below projections, but the man for whom the center is named is not concerned.
“I see no problem at all,” Infante said. “Even if we fall short, all that means is that we’ll pay less on the note [for the center] this year.”
The report, prepared for city council, shows wellness-center revenue was nearly $231,000, or 58 percent, of the estimated $400,000 for the year as of Aug. 31.
“That’s not where it should be,” said Charles Nader, city auditor. “We’re two-thirds of the way through the year, so we should be at 67 percent.” Based on those figures, the center is $38,000 below anticipated revenue.
“Last year at this time, we collected [more than] $252,000,” Nader said.
The center, located near Waddell Park, opened in early 2009. According to Nader, it has an operating budget of $280,000 this year. The facility is financed by a 20-year, $3.4 million note and, according to Nader, the city expects to pay at least $100,000 annually on the obligation.
Infante said the payments could be even higher.
“The more we make, the more we can pay on the note,” the mayor said. “Also, our operating costs are $40,000 below what they were last year.”
The auditor noted that the center’s revenue in 2009 was $365,000, well below original projections of $500,000. “That’s why we lowered it to $400,000 for this year,” Nader said.
Scott MacMillan, center director, said that despite the numbers, “We’re either above or right at the figures where we were last year.”
MacMillan said revenue outlook is promising because fall is the center’s busiest time of year with such league activities as soccer, flag football and lacrosse.
“I don’t know how we’ll do because of the economy, but we have no problem paying our bills even though revenue is down,” MacMillan said.
The wellness center charges $125 for its “full fitness” membership that includes the fitness center, swimming pool, volleyball and batting cage. A family membership costs $200, and there is no limit to the number of immediate family members who can sign up under the one plan.
“We usually pay our bills in the second and third quarter of the year and make our money in the first and fourth quarters,” MacMillan said. “I can tell you that despite the figures, we are ahead of where we were last year.
“We’re not out here to make money,” MacMillan said. “We’re here to benefit the community.”