Revenue has to grow, says president

The absence of any land sales to boost the coffers left the Otago Racing Club's members with a tough financial year to reflect on at last night's annual meeting.

The club recorded a $69,867 deficit for the year ended July 31 as it joins the rest of the industry in facing a difficult climate to stay ahead of the game.

President Stephen Grant said in his report the club had to face up to the fact that raceday and non-raceday revenue ''must match or exceed raceday and non-raceday expenses if the club is to have a future''.

''We found early on in our roles that radical changes had to be made if this basic business principle was to be observed,'' Grant said. ''That has involved staff restructuring and the canning of all non-essential expenditure, supported by a reprieve funding package to give the new business disciplines time to work.''

At the meeting, Grant said that without allowing for depreciation of $81,224, things would look rosier, but that would be inaccurate because grants for capital expenditure reached $112,524.

''If you take out those grants ... we do have a considerable trading loss.''

The South Otago Cup meeting in this financial year had performed well, and Grant hoped that would continue through the Melbourne Cup meeting earlier this month and the Christmas At The Races meeting at Cromwell on November 27.

A one-off boost is on the horizon in the form of property development on the Gladstone Rd frontage of the racecourse.

''This consent was obtained through a mediation with the Dunedin City Council and affected neighbours in the course of an appeal to the Environment Court,'' Grant said.

The subcommittee set up to progress the subdivision has since decided the club should not undertake the subdivision itself, but instead offer the land for sale as a development block.

''At the time of writing this report, the club has sold the land, subject to obtaining a variation of the resource consent to allow for staged development,'' Grant said.

''A decision on the variation is expected by the end of this month.''

Grant believes the club will be well able to pursue its objective of becoming a regional training centre if the variation is granted.

''The challenge for the committee will be to ring-fence the sale proceeds in a way that ensures that the proceeds are used for pursuing strategic objectives and not dissipated in covering trading losses. That will only happen if the basic business principles discussed at the commencement of this report are observed.''

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