Preliminary numbers presented at the Timmins council meeting reflect the Stars and Thunder deficit projected late last week by the mayor on social media.
Not all of the numbers are in for the 2018 edition of the eight-day music festival and international fireworks competition, however the report shows a projected shortfall of $1.89 million. That number is in line with what Timmins Mayor Steve Black said it could be on Facebook.
“The spreadsheet that was presented tonight was presented to council because there was a lot of request to have some ready information, but it wasn’t realistic to have a full set of numbers available at this point,” said CAO Dave Landers after the meeting, adding last year it took until October to pull everything in.
This year, he expects those final numbers to be in earlier.
“It is still early to wrap up an almost $6-million project in a couple of days following the event itself, so we’ll come back to council later on this summer with a full accounting,” said Landers. “Tonight you have an indication of what our loss was during the festival.”
The budget for the 2018 edition of the eight-day music festival that ran from June 24 to July 1 at Hollinger Park was $5.725 million.
So far, the committed revenues — which according to staff is the best estimate of where the city will be when everything is in — are $2.6 million, with the expenses coming in at $4.5 million.
By comparison, in 2017, the spreadsheet shows the shortfall was $559,458.
Staff is still waiting for items such as alcohol revenue and expenses, wages for June 30 and July 1, volunteer food cost, and other miscellaneous items, to include in the final numbers.
According to Landers, about 10,000 tickets were sold for the festival.
He said there were about 5,000 eight-day passes, which includes VIP and general admission, as well as about 5,000 people buying single-day tickets.
Those sales put the city $2.5 million short of what it was projecting for ticket sales.
The budget included $4.5 million in ticket sales, and the actual sales were $2 million. In 2017, the final ticket sales were $3.6 million.
For other revenue items, there was $250,000 budgeted for sponsorships, with the committed total coming in higher at $517,750.
The budget for concessions was $929,200, while $76,318 is logged as committed so far. Revenue from alcohol sales has yet to be added to this line, however.
When Black talked about Stars and Thunder on Facebook last week, he indicated that the shortfall will “be covered by savings in other areas or reserves at the end of the year.”
Coun. Joe Campbell, who said he bought tickets and was at the festival, noted that regardless of where the money comes from, the city will be “short that amount of money.”
“This event lost money in 2017, we didn’t even have a final financial statement before we forged ahead with it and I’ll tell you why, egos got in the way of solid financial management on this thing, big time,” he said.
“And I don’t care what anybody says around this table, we have an obligation to our taxpayers and when you lose money….you don’t forge ahead on a thing as a business plan without doing some kind of due diligence of risk assessment. We had nowhere to go, when ticket sales tanked we had no contingencies built in there and we were scrambling to cut some of the operating costs, which we did, to salvage this thing.”
At council, Black agreed that any money taken out of reserves impacts future years.
“The point I wanted to make clear and was a source of lots of conversation last year after the festival was that there’s no new tax bills going out for 2018 as a result of the festival,” said Black.
He also acknowledged staff and volunteers who worked the festival, and said he is still getting positive feedback from artists and guests.
“I agree financially this year’s disappointing and clearly if anything it would be up to a future council to decide, but if anything happens with the event in the future it will need some significant reconfiguration to…attempt to prevent a repeat of that,” Black said.
You can see the spreadsheet breaking down the costs here.