Inflation is affecting the bottom line for the Uptown Rutland Business Association (URBA).
So much so, that Executive Director Karen Beaubier said they’ve decided to close their office for an undetermined amount of time.
“Staff will work remotely,” she added. “It will be $23,000 in annual savings.”
Beaubier made a presentation to city council Sept. 26 as URBA looked for renewal for annual funding over the next five years.
“This proposed budget of a nine per cent increase in the first year (2023) is literally about playing a game of catch up, as this last year’s inflation rates could not have been predicted,” she said.
URBA’s proposed budget included a five per cent increase (year over year) until 2027. Beaubier noted URBA has divested itself from events that were not providing a sufficient return on investment or Rutland businesses, which drew accolades from council.
“I want to applaud you and your board for looking pragmatically at your operations and evolving in these really challenging times,” said Coun. Loyal Wooldridge.
Beaubier said URBA is looking at two new revenue sources to help with finances, including a soon-to-come affordable, associate membership.
“This is a stepping stone to see if there is a demand to expand URBA’s current boundaries in the next few years.”
Beaubier added that mural merchandise sales through their website and the visitors centre have been good and will continue.
The Rutland mural project, which started in 2019, saw four new additions this year. However, Beaubier said the budget is being cut by almost half, to $40,000 annually, unless grants can be secured. Grants are not a guaranteed revenue stream, she added.
URBA has been approached by an Australian tour company to add the mural walking tour to their itinerary for summer 2023, and recently filmed a promotional video featuring the art.
“Expanding mural marketing is on the agenda for 2023,” added Beaubier.