Arts and visitor centres costing council more than expected

The Visitor Information Centre’s deficit was up by almost $45,000 in the council's March budget review.
The Visitor Information Centre’s deficit was up by almost $45,000 in the council's March budget review.

Higher than expected operating costs for the Nautilus Arts Centre and the Visitor Information Centre have highlighted the need for the Port Lincoln City Council to develop business plans for the two entities.

The Port Lincoln City Council’s March budget review showed the arts centre deficit was up by more than $85,000 due to less revenue than expected from productions and shows, reduced gallery and shop sales, and increased building and cleaning costs.

The council’s finance and business manager David Levey said the council had budgeted for a $100,000 increase in revenue from 2016-17 at the arts centre, which had been “too ambitious”.

“Basically the 2017-18 budget was too optimistic.

“When you compare year on year it’s still tracking well, the problem is we underestimated the production prices and overestimated show income.

“That’s why we need these business plans and that’s what we’re doing.”

Mr Levey said council staff had started “breaking down” the figures to see if money was being lost on particular shows.

The Visitor Information Centre deficit was up by almost $45,000, mainly due to an increase in employee costs from special events like cruise ship visits and the Teakle Auto Sprint.

Mr Levey said there had been some “extraordinary circumstances” this financial year that added to staff costs, and time off in lieu (TOIL) and annual leave for full-time staff had not been budgeted for.

He said the increase in deficits for the two entities – both of which the council has only taken over in recent years – reinforced the need for business plans, which the council was already working on. 

Overall the budget review showed a $22,928 decrease in the council’s operating deficit to $1,320,560.