When the Wharton City Council during a budget workshop heard from Makyla Monroe about the funding needs of the Wharton Civic Center, the director laid out plans for most of the next five years.
When Monroe spoke to the council, the coronavirus pandemic still had its effects on the civic center, and the city for that matter. She said the building was running at 50 percent, pointing to Gov. Greg Abbott's Executive Order of reopening the state. She has an assistant, Jason Orsak, but hopes to gain back two part-timers now that events are scheduled and deposits paid. She said when the civic center has more bookings, it can present her staff with challenges.
Moreover, Monroe shared good news in the form of bookings. At the time she presented her budget, Monroe said there were more than 20 Saturdays left in the year. The center's main hall had all but seven Saturdays scheduled.
"So it looked like we were really getting back up and going, and it was wonderful," Monroe said.
Fiscal Year 2020-21
Monroe said installation of a "quick connect" plug for a high-capacity generator is needed for the next budget year. This would avert disaster if the building ever had its electricity go out for any reason during an event.
Monroe described bathroom stalls as "very rickety." She said they are old, locks are broken and paint is peeling off.
"At every event, little girls like to peel it off in strips and it's all over the floor," Monroe said. "We'd like to get those replaced and done nice."
Beyond next year
Monroe would like for the council to consider budgeting for new chairs and tables like it did several years ago. Many of the tables have broken down, forcing Bob Baker, with the city's Parks and Facilities Department, to have someone fix them. Baker and Monroe may head two different departments, but their staff work simultaneously on several projects.
A dehumidifier is being requested to be used in the center's main hall.
The center's marquee in the front of the building is electronic. Monroe said she would like for the city to seek bids to upgrade the signage.
The kitchen flooring in the back of the building adjacent to the main hall needs new tiles, Monroe said. She had been told the flooring has not changed since the center was converted from the hospital decades ago. Monroe did, however, boast about the new carpeting that was installed in every part of the building. The O'Quinn room also received new flooring last year.
Still staying within two years, Monroe would like to have a wall that separates meeting rooms A&B taken down and instead have a divider installed.
"There could be one open meeting space or have two different meeting spaces," Monroe said.
There is not heating inside the civic center, and in 2024, Monroe told elected officials that the city staff will introduce the idea of installing a unit.
"This is for the main hall," Monroe said. "It's Texas, so we don't usually need heating very often."
Monroe and the council didn't discuss specific numbers, however, Finance Director Joan Andel said nothing has been fine tuned yet as it relates to the civic center budget.
Toward the end of her presentation, Monroe added that she would like the council to continue to consider funding for roof repairs that is being considered now. The wallpaper in the main hall and pre-function area is beginning to fall off. It will be replaced with painting.