Ag event centre board faces challenges to success

The Ponoka Ag Event Centre Society (PAECS) faces many challenges not the least of which is communicating its financial position

The Ponoka Ag Event Centre Society (PAECS) faces many challenges not the least of which is communicating its financial position to the community.

At the society’s annual general meeting (AGM) Jan. 28, president Doug Gill spoke on the past year, which he feels was both rewarding and challenging. “We had our first full year of operation and that first year has netted the society a small operational surplus.”

He credited general manager Chas Lambert and the operational staff for their work. “And for the efforts of directors who have secured advertising money during the course of the year.”

The larger milestones for the ag event centre include having Calnash Trucking as the naming sponsor and the Canadian Professional Rodeo Hall of Fame making their official home in the building.

Gill said directors also faced challenges with board governance.

“In my opinion we will continue to struggle in the coming years. In the year ahead it is imperative that the board of directors address the following areas as the fastest way to move forward and with as little turmoil as possible,” said Gill.

First: He feels equal representation among the board of directors is important. There are now nine members representing the four partners of the Town of Ponoka, Ponoka County, the Ponoka Stampede and Exhibition Association and the Ponoka Agricultural Society.

“Each partner would have the same number of votes at the table,” Gill added later.

Of those directors, three represent the agricultural society, Cec Dykstra, Sherry Gummow and Greg Bowie; three for the Ponoka Stampede Association, Terry Jones, Danny Jones and Dale Olsen; one for the town, Doug Gill; one for the county, Gord Svenningsen, and one member at large, Don Letwinetz. A quorum could be met without all the partners being present, Gill explained.

He credits the board of directors for their work keeping the ag event centre afloat but feels the changes he suggested will make operations run more effectively.

Second: To develop policies to provide guidance to the manager and his staff.

Third: To review and update the bylaws of the society. “Some of those clauses now need to be changed, some of them even deleted.”

Fourth: To determine a governance model similar to a municipal model where either the manager answers to the board, or more as an operational model, “where the board members are more involved in operations daily.”

“If these items are not addressed I can see PAECS having the same challenges year after year,” he added.

The society’s financial statement was presented verbally by Gord Parker, of Rowland Parker and Associates. As it is still in draft form, the statement was not made available to attendees, explained director Sherry Gummow. “Once they’re adopted, each representative on the board can give it to the county members and Doug can give it to the town members and we can give it to the ag society, etc. But it’s not adopted at this point.”

Parker said the report represents a nine-month statement up to the end of September as the society’s year-end was recently changed.

“It’s at draft form and is waiting for board approval,” Parker said.

For assets, PAECS has approximately $130,000 of working capital with $10.9 million in capital assets.

“You have about $1.2 million of pledged contributions…These are funds that have been pledged, so they have not been received.”

Calnash Trucking also gave funds to the society for its sponsorship.

Liability is approximately $10.9 million with $320,000 of working capital and $750,000 of capital debt.

There is approximately $9.8 million of deferred capital contributions.

“So this is basically spent capital money. In the not-for-profit world, if you receive a contribution for a wonderful facility like this, what happens is it does not completely become revenue as the expense of this asset becomes recognized, so it basically washes out,” he said.

Net assets is equity in the not-for-profit world, Parker explained. There is about $230,000 of accumulated operating deficit; $82,000 in 2010, $160,000 in 2011 and an operating surplus of approximately $14,000.

Land assets are valued at approximately $1.6 million. He feels the capital debt relative to assets is minimal but needs improvement. “You have about $130,000 worth of assets, working capital, and you have about $320,000 worth of liability working capital.”

Revenue was approximately $910,000 and $580,000 of that was operating revenue and $330,00 was capital. Expenses were approximately $565,000 with capital expenditures of $330,000.

“You have basically funded this entire facility with contributions, grants and everything else.”

There is no capital surplus as the expenses cancel out the revenue, he added.

This leaves PAECS with $20,000 surplus.

Parker suggested saving the surplus and creating more profits will help generate the funds to pay back the capital debt.

“The second thing you’re going to have to do is look at possible growth and the only way you’re going to find growth is more contributions or earning the money yourselves and if you earn the money yourselves then you’re going to be able to purchase more capital assets,” he explained.

There was some discussion from attendees about not being able to see the draft statement. Ponoka County Coun. George Verheire feels despite being a draft document, members of the organization should have a copy. “We can’t discuss it when Mr. Parker gives us the numbers we can’t write them fast enough.”

Director Bowie said it is a document only the board should see until final approval.

“It’s discussion purposes for the board. Once it’s approved then it becomes part of the public record.”

“Then why was it brought up at the AGM?” Verheire asked.

Brad Watson, CAO for the Town of Ponoka, suggested the board decision should be respected as multiple documents being circulated could create confusion. “So that the board and everybody’s looking at that document so that you don’t have six different ones going around.”

He feels Verheire may have a point as Ponoka County is a member but as for “public issuance I would submit that that rests with the board and they have made their decision.”

Verheire asked to see the financial statement, as he wanted some answers and to discuss it.

Gummow responded, “Point of order: you don’t have a right to do that. You are not a voting member of this board.”

Don Hart of the Stampede Association suggested the financial statement should be ready before the AGM. “So that these people have access, there’s nothing secret about this and at yearend, it’s the way things are done.”

Gummow said the board would take the suggestion under advisement.