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Picton Town Hall board positive, though slammed by pandemic

Progress made in by the new Picton Town Hall board of management in the first three months of this year was lost due to impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But the board, in its required report to council one year after its inception, noted that though the building was shuttered, it was still able to help the community in April, providing space at no charge to the County Food Collective to distribute food.

The board helped promote the initiative which saw distribution of 263 boxes of food supporting 680 people by the end of May.

The board was established in 2019 to assume operation of the municipal property at 2 Ross St., Picton and is required to achieve full cost recovery offering community space.

The board assumed responsibility for bookings and day-to-day operations of the hall effective Jan. 1, 2020. In the months prior it consulted with user groups and the public to establish user rates and though it reports some decrease in bookings from previous groups, many continued their 2020 bookings and there was new interest, until the pandemic hit.

Plans for the Farmers’ Market also had to be shelved for this year due to the pandemic. Vendors who had pre-registered were refunded.

It continued meeting virtually and this month learned of the succesful tender for an online booking system members will learn to operate and integrate into the website in time for the re-opening of the hall.

In February the board reached a budget based on information at the time. It had expected revenues of $7,583 for the five months ending May 31 but realized just $2,852. The expenses deficit projected at $8,252 was actually $4,550. Expenses include caretaking services, repairs, maintenance and utilities. In comparison, the report states, the deficit for the year 2018 was $55,464.

The original financial plan for the “Hall for All” was to earn $30,000 each from its exisiting user base, new groups and events and activities.

The board also noted it believed an average rental of $10 per hour would yield its desired income, but when faced with the “real” cost of renting the hall, existing user groups reduced their booking time.

In the meantime, the board is realigning timelines in the wake of COVID-19 and its impact on the facility and will re-open the upper level as soon as permitted.

It is also working with the Recreation Outreach Centre for use of the lower level of the hall.

An 18-month report is expected in January 2021 at which time council will determine whether sufficient progress has been made toward cost-recovery.

Filed Under: Local News

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