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Civic center operator will get $90,000 bonus

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The new Augusta-Richmond County Coliseum Authority faced its first contentious issue Tuesday in deciding how much of a bonus to pay Global Spectrum for its first year managing James Brown Arena and Bell Auditorium.

Settling the matter took two tie votes, each broken by Chairman Cedric Johnson. There were no abstentions, no absences, no votes along racial lines and no harsh words other than a brief spat between Global Spectrum's Tom Paquette and authority accountant J.T. Cosnahan.

The final decision to pay the company $90,000 -- the minimum it would agree to -- was reached in an effort to avoid the cost of potential litigation.

"I'm proud of them," Mr. Johnson said afterward of the board.

At issue was the company's "benchmark calculation," an incentive for increasing revenues that was part of Global Spectrum's contract with the old coliseum authority. In its first year, the company has been credited with improving the operation's bottom line by nearly $300,000 despite losing the Augusta Lynx hockey team and the Augusta Colts arena football team.

During that year, the old 12-member authority was ousted by the state Legislature and replaced with the current seven-member board, a change initiated after years of complaints that infighting had made the board dysfunctional and ineffective.

Under the contract, Global Spectrum's bonus amount was to be figured using net concessions revenues, or the commission from concessions that went to the authority, comparing the take from fiscal year 2008-09 to the average revenues of the two prior fiscal years.

The complicated formula was further muddled by lackluster bookkeeping under past management and by the authority having two different concessions companies during the past three years, each with different calculations for turning over revenue. Concessions were handled by Centerplate until its contract expired in early 2008, and they're now under Ovations Food Services, a sister company to Global Spectrum.

The authority's accountant calculated that Global Spectrum's bonus should be $26,427. The company said the figure should be $110,000 -- the amount it earned in management fees during the 11 months it managed the civic center complex last fiscal year -- but that it would settle for $90,000.

Mr. Cosnahan said Global Spectrum was trying to mix gross and net revenues together in the calculation, and he asked Mr. Paquette under what accounting practices that could be done. An argument ensued, and Mr. Cosnahan asked why Global Spectrum's finance representatives didn't attend the meeting.

"We've made our position clear. I don't know what else to say," said Mr. Paquette, who is general manager of the Colonial Center in Columbia and has been at several meetings lately to support Augusta civic center manager Monty Jones.

Authority member and Finance Committee Chairman David Hogg proposed meeting the company halfway and paying a bonus of $68,000. The motion failed 4-3, with Louis "Hap" Harris, Bonita Jenkins and Brad Usry opposed, and Mr. Johnson breaking the tie.

"Thank y'all very much," Mr. Johnson said after the tie vote, eliciting laughter. He said he'd rather pay the company its $90,000 minimum, that he wants to foster a good relationship, and that if the dispute went into litigation, it would cost the authority far more than the $22,000 difference between that figure and $68,000.

Authority member Brad Usry later made a motion to pay $90,000, contingent on a concrete formula being agreed on for determining the bonus in future years. The motion passed 4-3, with Joe Collier, Shirley Darby and Mr. Hogg opposed.

Reach Johnny Edwards at (706) 823-3225 or

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JerryAtrick 11/25/09 - 02:59 am
Good! Thanks to ALL the

Good! Thanks to ALL the members for attending and participating and voting. That's a heck of a lot better than what we've been living with. Mr Fennoy, are you watching?

Riverman1 11/25/09 - 04:22 am
Reading that I went through

Reading that I went through feelings of embarrassment for our city as the twists and turns of the meeting were described. I could only breathel a sigh of relief that it ended with the company getting paid, even though it is apparently less than what they are owed. Before Global took over the accounting was so bad $5,000 checks couldn't be accounted for in addition to the concessions. Authority members please act professional with these people and let them run the show. You know how word gets around when matters get silly as they used to. It's some times best for an authority to do nothing, but approve what's going on.

JerryAtrick 11/25/09 - 04:33 am
Rm1 - I'm with you on

Rm1 - I'm with you on everything you said. I'm happy to take the small step of having all the members present, having a discussion, and going on record with their votes. No "confidential meeting", nobody out fighting in the hallway or in the bathroom or "out of town" etc.

disssman 11/25/09 - 09:19 am
How about we get someone on

How about we get someone on the board who can write a iron clad contract before we go out for bids. Amazing what we have representing us in this city. But we will keep on electing the same old riff raff that appointed this incompetent board to begin with. How about they post the proposals on the web before thry go out for bids? Or better yet how about posting their budget in a fashion that makes it totally transparent.

corgimom 11/25/09 - 06:35 pm
They have earned every penny

They have earned every penny of it. Good work, Global Spectrum! You took on the biggest, whitest elephant in Augusta and that wasn't easy.

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