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Alexandria council eyes fiscal challenges for ice rink as it sets season, OKs temporary layoffs

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ALEXANDRIA BAY — The Alexandria Town Council on Monday night acknowledged a tough job ahead righting the fiscal ship at the Alexandria Municipal Arena, as it decided to close the facility for the summer to save money.

Three workers — two full-time and one part-time — will be temporarily laid off when the arena closes June 1, leaving one part-time worker whose wages are covered through a Jefferson County work program. The last spring hockey game is scheduled for May 16. The council will decide later when to reopen the arena for fall.

The move will save at least $23,000 through Sept. 1, though the savings could increase depending on how long it is before the facility reopens for the fall season.

Though the arena has operated at a loss for years, the town has seen the arena sink deeper in the red for a number of years.

A budget sheet shown at the council’s meeting Monday illustrated that in 2013 the arena lost $194,650.28, a nearly 40 percent increase from the $139,513.90 loss in 2012. The arena lost $90,573.06 in 2007.

The greatest losses in 2013 were attributed to increased costs for wages, heating and electricity. The town also saw arena revenues decline by $30,000, which the council blamed in part on factors such as split-area teams that took players to other arenas.

After the meeting Monday, town Supervisor Dale D. Hunneyman said the losses are too much for residents to subsidize, compared to other communities with ice rinks.

“I can’t put that on local taxpayers,” he said.

The council said it would be open to holding a fall hockey season, but only if it could book enough ice time to break even.

“We need to get this thing booked,” said Councilman Brent H. Sweet. “We need it booked beginning to end.”

Without sufficient interest in fall hockey, council members said, the opening may be pushed back to late October or early November.

The council also approved overriding the state’s 2 percent tax levy increase cap.

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