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ORDA still in the red

State authority continues to operate at deficit

LAKE PLACID — The state Olympic Regional Development Authority had a bad summer and continues to operate deeply in the red, according to a recent year-to-date financial report.

In the first five months of ORDA’s fiscal year, April 1 to Sept. 1, the authority operated at a loss of more than $9.8 million, ORDA Finance Director Peggy Evatt told the authority’s Board of Directors Monday. ORDA’s operating funds are kept separate from its capital funds, which underpin the authority’s various ongoing construction projects.

The sports facilities that ORDA oversees — including the Olympic Center, Mount Van Hoevenberg Olympic Sports Complex, Olympic Jumping Complex and the Whiteface, Gore and Belleayre Mountain ski centers — have raked in more than $3 million in revenue since March, according to Evatt.

But that’s a 20% decrease in revenue compared to the facilities’ earnings at this time last year, she said.

A copy of the year-to-date financial report, which has specific dollar amounts for each figure outlined by Evatt as well as past years for comparison, was not made available to the Enterprise immediately following the ORDA Board of Directors meeting Monday. Requests for copies of the report were not immediately responded to. Therefore, the Enterprise can only at this time report figures stated aloud at the meeting.

Visitations to ORDA-managed sites lagged in April and May, and the authority saw a difficult summer season as well, in part because of ongoing construction at the Olympic Jumping Complex and the bobsled run at Mount Van Hoevenberg, Evatt said. However, most of ORDA’s earnings typically come in the last five months of the fiscal year.

ORDA has historically had some difficulties balancing its operating budget. The last time ORDA was audited in 2014, the state Comptroller’s Office gave the authority a slap on the wrist for relying on loans and outside contributions from other state agencies to cover cash shortages. Between April 2010 and March 2013, ORDA’s losses totaled $4.2 million in cash; $45 million including depreciation, accounts receivable and post-employment benefits due to its employees.

ORDA also relied on a line of credit to cover its basic operating costs, including payroll, the audit found.

One of the facilities ORDA recently completed upgrades to is showing some promising growth, according to Evatt. The authority wrapped up a $5 million rehab of the elevator located at the top of the Whiteface Veterans Memorial Highway in May. Since the amenity reopened, revenue gleaned from visits to the highway has vaulted by 40% from the year before, Evatt said. Altogether, operations at Whiteface are generating 22% more revenue so far this year over this time last year.

How that revenue compared to past years when the elevator was running was not available.

Earlier this year, ORDA also relocated its retail shop from Main Street into the Olympic Center. Since the end of March, revenue at the store is up 5%, according to Evatt. Income generated through the sale of season ski passes has also increased by more than 12%, and the annual Oktoberfest celebration at the Whiteface Mountain Ski Center this past weekend raked in $56,000 more in revenue this year than the year before. Altogether, 6,311 people visited the mountain for the event.