More effectiveness needed at TRAC in Pasco, advisory board says

Geoff Folsom, Tri-City HeraldApril 25, 2014 

TRAC ATM Audit

March 15, 2014 - An ATM cash machine at the TRAC facility in Pasco is one of the items of concern listed in a report that the state auditor issued to Franklin County.

BOB BRAWDY — Tri-City Herald Buy Photo

Members of an advisory board for the TRAC facility said this week that the board needs to be more effective.

The meeting was the advisory board's first since the state Auditor's Office issued a report in March faulting TRAC management for poor oversight of cash machines at the Pasco facility.

Since then, Franklin County commissioners have hired an outside company to operate the ATMs and are preparing to go out for bids for a more expansive audit of the recreational center's finances.

The seven-member advisory board has no official power but makes recommendations to the county commission. This week the board didn't have a quorum.

The fact that just three of the board's six members attended is evidence that it needs to meet more often than every three months, said Councilman Al Yenney, one of three city of Pasco appointees.

The seventh board position is vacant and needs to be filled. It's the only one not appointed by the city council or county commission.

"We need to meet monthly so we can get this squared away," Yenney said. "If we meet quarterly, you won't see anything change. If people can't make these meetings, we need to find out whether they want to still be on the board."

County Auditor Matt Beaton also suggested the board be allowed to consider ideas about TRAC before commissioners decide on them as well as having information about the board on TRAC's website.

"You put the minutes up, talk about who attended, who didn't attend," he said. "That way you can invigorate it."

Pasco Councilwoman Rebecca Francik said the board has long tried to come up with ideas for the facility, including turning TRAC into an aquatics facility,

"I came up with seven ideas, every idea was, 'No we can't do that,' " she said.

Commissioner Rick Miller said he would welcome the advisory board's ideas, but added that there is little money to spare to spend on the 20-year-old event center.

Officials also expressed concern because TRAC failed to meet its budgeted revenue in 2013 and is doing so again so far this year.

TRAC has been hurt because Ranch & Home let its naming rights deal for one of the two arenas expire and because several events canceled, said General Manager Troy Woody.

TRAC was budgeted to bring in $818,000 during the first quarter this year, but only had $690,000 in revenue from January to March.

Last year, TRAC saw its revenue drop to $2.18 million from a record $2.37 million in 2012.

Woody acknowledged that negative attention toward TRAC and uncertainty over its future could harm bookings and may eventually hurt his ability to keep employees.

"You (can't) throw red flags in the air and not think it has an impact on the business model," he said.

Woody also defended the facility's losses. Franklin County and Pasco subsidized TRAC by $353,395 in 2013. He said recreational facilities from softball fields to senior centers are not expected to be profitable.

"The auditor's office loses money," he said. "It spends more than it brings in, so let's go figure out how they're going to reduce costs or charge more."

Beaton responded that he doesn't believe the public equates losses at TRAC with the auditor's office, a constitutionally mandated department.

-- Geoff Folsom: 509-582-1543; gfolsom@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @GeoffFolsom

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