Culpeper Town Council discusses possible help for State Theatre

A town council committee Tuesday morning discussed a way to help the financially strapped State Theatre with its utility bills, but lacking documentation the committee tabled the matter until next month.

Light and Power, Water and Wastewater Committee Chairman Pranas Rimeikis wanted to determine if there was anything the town could legally do to help the State Theatre through the townâ??s utility fund. The townâ??s utility funds are known as enterprise funds and operate through rates paid by customers and not through the general fund.

Vice Mayor Billy Yowell asked why the theatre had such high utility bills.

Town Manager Chris Hively conceded that the theatreâ??s bills were significantly higher than similar facilities mainly due to the computer-controlled state-of-the-art heating and cooling system.

â??It doesnâ??t recognize when people are in the building,â? said Hively. The theatre has since made some modifications that have reduced electricity costs.

Yowell noted that citizens will be asking town council what it had done in the past to help the State Theatre.

Hively said the town council voted to a $50,000 grant, if the theatre received a grant it was seeking. The theatre did not receive the grant and therefore the town provided no funding.

While addressing the theatreâ??s utility bills, he noted water and sewer was straightforward and some of the electric bill was a pass-through charged by Dominion Virginia Power â?? the townâ??s electric provider.

Yowell said the theatre is a benefit to downtown but also said that funding the theatreâ??s operation would be ongoing. He said some citizens are concerned that tax dollars would be used to fund the theatre.

â??What we may need to do is find them a benefactor,â? said Yowell.

Hively said he has meetings scheduled and hoped to have more information and documentation by next monthâ??s meeting.

Councilman Keith Price asked if the town had received a formal funding or utility reduction request from the theatre. Hively said there only had been ongoing discussions.