Conseco Fieldhouse and Local Government and Pacers and Audits and Capital Improvement Board and Pro Sports and Government & Economic Development and Government and Sports Venues

CIB audit shows agency finances improving

July 2, 2010

The Capital Improvement Board’s financial outlook is looking a lot less gloomy as it continues to negotiate over who will pay Conseco Fieldhouse operating costs.

The CIB’s 2009 audit report, issued to the City-County Council’s Municipal Corporations Committee Thursday evening, shows the agency was $10 million in the black last year compared with a loss of $16.8 million in 2008.

Revenue slipped 4.6 percent, to $123.1 million. But the decrease was offset by an even more dramatic drop in expenses, which fell 22.5 percent, to $113.1 million in 2009.

The CIB has improved its finances by making $26 million in cuts and by delaying installments on $25.5 million in debt service reserve payments.

Staff reductions in 2009 resulted in a 14.4 percent drop in salaries and wages, to $11.3 million, according to the routine audit conducted by the State Board of Accounts. The CIB also reduced expenses related to repair and maintenance, security, parts and supplies.

The CIB anticipates meeting its financial obligations again this year, the audit said, but warned of continued volatility in the economy.

“Current economic conditions have made it difficult to predict future tax revenues,” the audit said. “A significant decline in tax revenues could have an adverse impact on the CIB’s future operating results.”

CIB revenue last year was hampered by a decrease in investment income and a drop in the amount of state and local taxes it collects—including the county innkeeper’s tax, food and beverage tax, admissions tax, auto rental excise tax, and a share of the state cigarette tax. But revenue would have been down even more in 2009 if not for a 1-percent increase in the innkeeper’s tax and an expansion of the Professional Sports Development Area to include the hotels that comprise the massive J.W. Marriott hotel complex.

Adding to the uncertainty is $15 million in annual Fieldhouse operating costs the CIB could inherit from the Indiana Pacers. The CIB owns the arena, where the Pacers and Indiana Fever play.

The Pacers’ current lease runs through 2019, but the team has an out clause if it is losing money. Pacers Sports & Entertainment contends it has been in the red every year but one since moving into Conseco Fieldhouse and can no longer afford to pay to operate the facility.

The team had hoped to have the situation resolved by June 30, but negoitiations continue.

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