Portland councilors seek broad plan for city entertainment venues

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PORTLAND — The Finance Committee wants to look into how the city can better manage its “quasi-business” operations – some of which are losing money every year.

The committee in January asked city staff to present information about management at Riverside Municipal Golf Course, and hinted that outside management could be an option for the course in the future.

Now the committee is taking a broader approach.

Finance Committee Chairman John Anton said this week that the committee is interested in reviewing operations at several city-run entertainment centers including the Portland Expo, Merrill Auditorium, Ocean Gateway and the Portland Ice Arena.

“We’ve asked for an overview of the facilities, including financial history,” Anton said. The golf course and ice rink usually lose money on an annual basis, and the city has to cover operating costs with general funds.

The committee, composed of Councilors Jill Duson, John Coyne and Anton, wants city staff to come up with business plans for the facilities.

“We’re looking for defined goals and to see if any capital investment is needed,” Anton said.

He said the discussion of outside management for Riverside alone is off the table and the committee does not plan to take up an unsolicited proposal to run the course submitted earlier this month by Harris Golf of Bath.

The Finance Committee will not have a meeting Thursday, Feb. 17, as was previously scheduled. An overview of the facilities operations could be on an agenda in March, but Anton said he does not expect staff to have the business plans ready for review until summer.

Kate Bucklin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or kbucklin@theforecaster.net

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