PI Council votes to move forward with LED lighting for Forum

6 years ago

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — During a special meeting Thursday, city councilors unanimously agreed to move forward with a plan to install LED interior lights at the Presque Isle Forum. 

Recreation and Parks Director Chris Beaulieu had informed the councilors at their regular meeting on Feb. 7 about an Efficiency Maine program that would allow The Forum to install interior LED lights throughout the building for a rebate up to $17,000. The council had declined to immediately approve the project without first having Beaulieu acquire additional quotes from LED installation companies and provide a breakdown of yearly expenses and revenue for The Forum.

At the special meeting held Thursday at the Mark and Emily Turner Memorial Library, Beaulieu told councilors, “After the rebate, the lowest proposed cost for the installation would be $25,000.”

Councilors agreed that the project would be a worthy investment, especially when considering the annual savings of about $13,000 a year in electrical costs for The Forum.

“My feeling is that regardless of the rebate, this is a project that will save the facility money in the long run,” Councilor Craig Green said.

Council Chair Emily Smith carried the motion to officially approve the LED lighting project.

“I think what we need to do now is look at the program fees for The Forum and see what changes we could make in the future,” Smith said, after the vote.

As promised at the prior meeting, Beaulieu provided counselors with a breakdown of The Forum’s 2017 expenses, including employee salaries and benefits, and revenue from programs such as community ice skating and team sports and other events that come to the community from outside Aroostook County.

“I took our two full-time employee salaries out of the equation to see what everything would add up to for costs,” Beaulieu said. “With that in mind, The Forum only costs $130,000 a year to operate.”

Beaulieu made the point that even with the operational costs for the ice-skating rink, many annual events bring in enough revenue to the city to cover those expenses.

“The Shrine Circus alone brings in over 21,000 people to The Forum and a revenue of $243,000,” he said. “But I do think we could make changes to bring the $130,000 down a bit each year.”

The Forum currently has public ice skating rates of $2.50 for children ages 6 and under, $4 for students ages 7-17, $4.50 for adults 18 years and older, and $3.50 for senior citizens. The facility also charges outside groups such as the Anah Temple Shrine Circus $1,000 per day to rent the building for special events.

“My hope is to meet with the recreation advisory board and go through all of the costs and come up with a plan to update our pricing,” Beaulieu said. “I know that the $1,000 per day has been in place for at least 20 years.”

Beaulieu and the councilors agreed that further discussions will be needed to determine the best way to increase annual revenue and decrease operational costs for The Forum.