A recent audit of the company that manages the Casper Events Center showed marked progress in its financial reporting, and possibly some improvement to the traditionally money-losing building, city officials said.

“I was very critical of you guys when the audit came out and I’m glad to see you have it on track,” city council member Chris Walsh said last week at a work session.

Walsh addressed his remarks to officials of Spectra Venue Management who attended the work session.

Last year, the accounting firm that audited Spectra’s books for its first full year of management came back with a report that City Manager Carter Napier called “almost historically troubling.”

In October 2016, the city relinquished management of the then 34-year-old Events Center and entered a contract with Global Spectrum, L.P., doing business as Spectra Venue Management, to operate the Events Center with a goal of reducing the losses and the city’s subsidies.

Last year, Casper accounting firm Porter, Muirhead, Cornia & Howard submitted its audit for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2017.

It was bad.

The audit “revealed a number of internal control deficiencies, financial misstatements, and overall poor condition of accounting records,” according to a memo to Napier from city financial services director Tom Pitlick and parks and recreation director Tim Cortez.

Those problems were so severe that the accounting firm was “unable to express an opinion as to the financial statements,” according to the memo.

Since then, Spectra changed its financial leadership, according to the memo.

The accounting firm conducted the new audit for the 2017-2018 fiscal year, according to the memo from Pitlick and Cortez. “The results were encouraging and indicated acceptable progress being made in the areas reviewed.”

However, Spectra and the building otherwise known as the “Pizza Hut on the Hill” have a long way to go to stanching the financial losses to the city.

When the city announced the deal in September 2016, it said the Events Center generated about $8 million a year for the local economy with the 200,000 people who attend concerts, athletic and school functions, theatrical performances, the College National Finals Rodeo and other events.

Despite that, the Events Center has never been able to support itself, so the city has spent about $1 million a year to subsidize it.

Spectra already provided the ticketing services for the building and the contract included food services, marketing and the benefits of having an international reach to include Casper in the touring schedules of bands.

According to the contract, the city pays Spectra a fixed management fee of $130,000 a year. If the city's subsidy exceeds $994,000 during the second year of the contract, Spectra will refund up to half that.

During the 2016-2017 fiscal year, the city subsidized the Events Center with $1.2 million during the transitional year, Napier said.

It declined to $1.08 million in fiscal year 2018.

Napier hopes the subsidy will be less for the current fiscal year, but there are several major events that will determine the Events Center’s fiscal fate, he said.

“I know that spectra would like to see that, too,” Napier said.

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