With rental revenue from the city’s Canfield Casino down 30 percent this year, the City Council has created a new position — reservation coordinator — to help fill the empty dates.
“The city has never really marketed this place,” said Public Works Commissioner Anthony “Skip” Scirocco.
The historic Canfield Casino in Congress Park, where wedding receptions and upscale parties are often held, is a unique venue, he said, adding: “Nobody has what we have.”
The city owns and maintains the building, which was opened in 1871 by gambler and businessman John Morrissey and enlarged by Richard Canfield in 1903.
Scirocco said revenue generated by the building has declined by 31 percent this year.
The sluggish economy might have something to do with that, as well as the increasing number of event venues in the city, he said.
Rental rates have also been increased at the Casino in recent years. The current rate is $2,500 for a city resident and $3,200 for a non-resident, both $100 higher than the previous year. The current rental rate for a local nonprofit organization is $1,900 Mondays through Thursdays and $2,100 Fridays through Sundays. These rates have also have been increased, according to city officials.
Scirocco said he voted against the rental rate hikes in 2009 but the majority of the City Council approved them.
Deputy City Finance Commissioner Gerald Lundgren said 2010 revenue generated by Casino rentals was $382,260 as compared to the $289,784 generated by the rentals this year to date. The revenue numbers also include a small amount of revenue generated by rental of the city Visitor Center on Broadway and space in City Hall, Lundgren said.
The Public Works Department recently conducted a Civil Service audit of its positions and found that the working supervisor of Congress Park was also acting as reservation coordinator.
“Civil Service said that’s not right,” Scirocco said. The new position of reservation coordinator, which would pay the person a little over $20 per hour (about $42,000 per year), was proposed. The person would spend 40 hours per week “marketing and promoting” the Casino and other city rental properties, Scirocco said.
He also received approval at the Sept. 20 City Council meeting to change the titles of at least two other civil service positions in his department. The reservation coordinator position will be filled through an open, competitive process after it is posted by the city’s Civil Service office. Scirocco said he wants to get someone into the position as soon as possible.
City Accounts Commissioner John Franck said he does not take issue with the civil service position changes proposed by Scirocco but said the timing, just two weeks before the City Council starts discussing the city’s comprehensive 2012 budget, makes no sense.
Franck, who voted against the measure that passed 4-1 on party lines, said a discussion of new positions should be part of the 2012 budget process.
He said another civil service position change — head zoning and building inspector, with a salary of between $65,000 and $70,000, proposed by Mayor Scott Johnson — should also be discussed during the budget development process. The council also approved this position in a 4-1 vote with Franck dissenting.
“I’m not saying it’s wrong,” Franck said. “I’m just saying that it could have waited for two weeks.”
Johnson said the position of head building and zoning inspector has been vacant for more than a year. He said currently two assistant building inspectors are sharing the duties of the head inspector. Johnson said when he took office there were four city building and zoning inspectors, including a head inspector.
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