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Big deficit prompts hard questions for Rochester Civic Theatre

ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- Questions are being asked about how Rochester Civic Theatre is handling its finances.

That's after an oversight committee made up of three city council members saw losses nearing a half-million dollars. City leaders are calling it "worrisome."

The Rochester Civic Theatre Board President Jeff Haynes said the losses are the result of a strategy that didn't end up working. Haynes said the biggest downfall was over-paying talent. He also said that's because the organization was under the impression that would help generate community funding-which was not the case.

Because of the deficit, the board is now changing things up.

"We are at a point now where we need to, we are in the process of rethinking our strategy which did not play out the way we'd hoped,"Haynes said.

The board is now implementing controls to double check large money going out, and limiting how much actors are paid. That might not be enough. City Council member Shawn Palmer said the concern is about whether tax dollars are being used properly.

"I think the worry is how do you spend the taxpayer dollars and if we're giving them about $200,000 for the theatre, and I believe it's $400,000 for the Art Center. We want to make sure that we are good stewards of the tax payer dollars," Palmer stated.

A few proposals are set to be discussed at a meeting aimed at monitoring how that money is being spent. One idea could see a third party tasked with running the theatre.

The meeting with the oversight committee and Civic Theatre board could be as soon as next week.

Ubah Ali

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