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REAL asking city for $4.7M more than amount in proposed budget

The Regina Exhibition Association Limited (REAL) will be asking the city for more than $5.8 million for its 2024 operating budget, about five times more than the city was planning on providing, a city document shows.

According to the document, REAL is requesting a total of $5.876 million, the City of Regina was recommended to provide REAL with $1.1 million for its 2024 budget.

Last week the City of Regina agreed to take all tourism responsibilities off of REAL’s hands after the organization made the request saying it wanted to focus solely on its own business and operations.

In May, personal accounting firm MNP was hired by the city to conduct a third party financial review of REAL, the report found that REAL would not be able to continue operations and break even financially moving forward.

The city also gave REAL permission to access an additional $3.4 million in its current line of credit – just so the organization could meet financial obligations for the rest of its fiscal year.

At the time REAL said it was forecasting to have a negative cash flow of $6.9 million by September of 2023 if the city did not grant approval for them to increase its line of credit limit.

In the document, REAL’s financial request is broken down showing where the requested money will be used.

A total of $1,828,185 has been requested to offset 2023 budgeted operating earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization loss of $1,828,185.

A total of $2,647,938 was requested just to pay for projected payments on all debt REAL has, $1 million would be set aside for 2024 capital costs and $400,000 would come from the City of Regina’s operating grant that has been provided to REAL over the past three years.

“We used to ask for about $400,000 and I think we got it down to about $200,000 and we were on route to ask for zero,” REAL CEO Tim Reid told CTV News.

“COVID hit and our business model just fundamentally changed. We’re not in a position where we can operate at a loss without council support. So really this has to be weighed against all the other priorities city council has.”

According to Reid, that $5.8 million figure is necessary to keep facilities in operating condition.

“For the last number of years, we’ve been talking to city council about the fact that we’ve been carrying this deferred maintenance number which essentially is investment in the assets the city owns that we haven’t been making," he said.

"Historically, when REAL would make a bit of money, we would use our earnings to put back into the assets as an investment.”

CTV News spoke with several people who frequent REAL District facilities often.

All wished to remain anonymous but explained the disrepair is noticeable – which occasionally causes issues and are hopeful that REAL makes maintenance upgrades.

“Its a great facility for families and it facilitates a lot of different events in our city so I’d be hopeful that it isn’t struggling for too much longer," one resident told CTV News.

The results of some leaky roofs at the REAL District on Nov. 14, 2023. (Submitted)

REAL is expected to make the funding request during an Executive Committee meeting on Wednesday.

According to the city’s agenda, administration is recommending that the request be set aside and discussed by council at its upcoming meeting on Dec. 13.

With files from Hallee Mandryk. Top Stories

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