Can you calculate the losses, gains of Petrolia Y deal?

Y PHOTO by Joseph Gorzeman

Petrolia council is expected to extend the YMCA’s contract to run the Oil Heritage District Community Centre at its meeting Monday, but it is difficult to tell if the first contract has met the goal of reducing the town’s costs at the centre.

In 2017, the town struck a deal with the Y to run the community centre starting in 2018. At the time, taxpayers footed the bill for about $450,000 per year more than the membership fees brought in to run the centre. The Y anticipated it could save the town $600,000 over five years – about $125,000 per year.

And from the data contained in budgets and reports to council analyzed by The Independent, there may have been some savings. In 2019 and 2020, the town anticipated it would cost about $381,000 and $371,908 respectively. That was down about $75,00 to $85,000 from the two previous years.

But what the Y – nor anyone else – could have anticipated was a world wide pandemic which closed the doors to the gym and pool for 30 months.

Town administrators and the Y forecasted higher costs as the impacts of the pandemic were felt. During the Nov. 2020 budget deliberations – six months after the facility first closed – the town anticipated paying out $424,453 in 2021 to run the facility – a combination of the operation’s deficit and the administrative fees it would pay.

The 2022 budget reflected the same grim picture with taxpayers expected to pay about $429,979 to run the facility.

What those actual deficits were can’t be fully understood since the only available data showing what was actually paid is the accounts listings given to council. There are quarterly reports sent to the town by the Y, however despite requests for the information, the reports were never given to The Independent by the town.

And Petrolia also received COVID-19 grants to cover lost revenue at the Y, Victoria Playhouse and the local arena. It’s unclear how much of the $594,000 received over two years went to the Y.

The 2022 actual costs are incomplete – the Y has three months to submit its bills the information doesn’t include much of October, November and December.
Until October 2022, the town paid out around $289,000 for administrative fees, operating losses and capital projects.

The losses recorded in the accounts payable listing were higher in 2021, despite long layoffs of staff because of the pandemic and funding from the federal government because of lost revenue. The Independent calculated about $326,000 payed out in 2021.

In 2020, another year marked with layoffs and extra federal government COVID-19 relief, the town paid out $204,234 in administrative fees, operating losses, capital expenses.

The Y recently told town council it is back to more than 80 per cent of its pre pandemic members – the best recovery of all the YMCAs in southern Ontario.