Money would go towards buying ice-resurfacer
The Winthrop Town Council has turned down a request from the Winthrop Rink, which the town owns, for an additional $10,000 toward the purchase of a much-needed ice-resurfacing machine.
Rink manager Connor Walsh earlier told the council that a newer ice-resurfacing machine — in this case, a used one he had identified as available — was needed to replace the existing 17-year-old machine, which is increasingly unreliable.
Walsh asked the council to consider providing $50,000 from the town’s lodging tax revenues to help pay for a replacement machine, which he estimated would cost $75,000 to $85,000.
The town’s Lodging Tax Advisory Committee (LTAC), which oversees how the lodging taxes the town collects are used to promote tourism, had recommended $40,000 in funding for the new machine. Before responding to Walsh’s request, the council members said they first wanted to hear the LTAC’s reasoning for its $40,000 recommendation.
Walsh said that he is anticipating $5,000 from the Give Methow Campaign, $5,000 from a donor who has agreed to help pay for a replacement machine, $10,000 from the Okanogan County LTAC, and $10,000 from other donors, for a total of $30,000 toward the machine’s purchase. Approval of a $50,000 contribution from the town would allow him to proceed with the purchase of a 2-year-old resurfacing machine that is available and has been sparingly used, Walsh said.
At last week’s town council meeting, Paul Peterson, representing LTAC, said the group is “definitely a proponent of the rink … but we don’t want to be the only community supporters.” He said the LTAC would like to see the rink do more outreach for other potential sources of funding.
Because money previously budgeted for a “gateway” project at the east end of town was not spent this year, there are lodging tax proceeds available. Town Clerk Michelle Gaines said both the 2 percent and 3 percent collections are running higher than budgeted this year.
Mayor Sally Ranzau said the council previously approved the $40,000 “because of the need for this season.”
“It’s important to remember that the rink is a town facility, operated by a volunteer organization,” Ranzau said. She said the nonprofit board that operates the rink for the town has already made substantial investments in the facility.
Council member Bill McAdow said he was “comfortable trusting them [LTAC] with the decision.” Council member Joseph O’Driscoll also endorsed the LTAC recommendation.
Gaines noted that if the rink can’t raise enough funds for a replacement machine and the current ice-resurfacer becomes inoperative, the town will end up covering the cost of a newer machine anyway. “It’s our facility, and we are responsible for it,” she said.
Council member Ben Nelson joined the other council members in accepting the LTAC recommendation, but also acknowledged that “we are on the hook” and that there is a risk that the rink won’t independently raise enough funds to buy a replacement machine. “We need to accept that eventuality,” he said. “If it comes back here, you need to understand why.”
Ice resurfacing machines are popularly known as “Zambonis,” but that is not always accurate. Zamboni is a brand name, after the inventor of the original ice resurfacer, and there are now other manufacturers. The machine owned by Winthrop Rink is actually an Olympia brand resurfacer.