When construction of a massive shooting complex was proposed for the northern edge of the valley, Clark County officials had a goal: Make the public facility self-supporting.
But after three years of operation and the expenditure of $1.75 million of county general funds for its last three annual budgets, the Clark County Shooting Complex will end this fiscal year nearly $900,000 in the red, according to county records.
And county officials want the red ink to stop flowing.
If that isn’t happening a year from now, one county commissioner says one option is to look into hiring a private company to run the complex.
The complex draws thousands of enthusiasts for shooting and archery activities each month. With about 2,900 acres, it offers ranges for bows and arrows, rifles, pistols and shotguns, including skeet, trap and clay targets.
The shooting park, owned and operated by Clark County, has failed to break even since its opening in 2010. It is estimated to have a net loss of $895,386 for this fiscal year, which ends June 30, according to county budget records.
IN THE RED
County officials want the complex to be self-supporting.
In the next fiscal year, the complex will fall short of breaking even by an estimated $251,905, under the county’s tentative budget projections.
It has lost money, even after help from the county’s general fund.
In fiscal year 2011, the complex received $1 million of county funding. The following year, it received a subsidy of $500,000 from the county.
For the current fiscal year that ends on June 30, the complex received a $250,000 county subsidy. Were it not for that money, the net loss would have been $1.14 million, budget records show.
For the upcoming fiscal year, no county subsidy is planned.
Changes are in store for the complex’s near future, with an eye toward saving money and boosting revenue. Park officials are considering increasing fees and shortening hours from November through February, a move that would save about $35,000 in electricity costs alone.
The day fee to use the rifle and pistol range could go up from $7 to $9. The room rental fees used for group activities could increase as well, up from $25 for a 30-seat classroom to $32.
Fee increases would need approval from the County Commission.
Complex manager Steve Carmichael said the goal is to keep the park affordable and attractive.
“I hate price increases, especially when things are as tight as they are,” he said. “We’ve really tried to hold the line and keep it affordable.”
MARKETING EFFORTS WORKING
The complex also markets itself, with officials visiting gun shows in the valley to raise its profile. About 7,000 people visit the complex each month.
Those efforts appear to be paying off, at least in popularity. For example, the complex used 1.2 million clay targets in fiscal year 2011. The following year, shooters fired at about 1.8 million clay targets.
“I got a good feeling for where we’re at and we’re heading up,” Carmichael said. “I think things will turn up.”
He noted that the complex still needs improvements in the long term, including a 1,200-yard range and a new building for the archery range. He is not sure when that will happen.
Although the complex isn’t turning a profit, its annual revenues are increasing.
For this fiscal year, the county anticipates pulling in $1.34 million in recreation fees.
For the upcoming fiscal year, starting July 1, that increases to $2.36 million. After factoring in salaries and other expenses, the anticipated net loss will reach an estimated $251,905.
SISOLAK VOICES CONCERNS
Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak said the loss is a concern, though he is hopeful the complex can turn around financially.
“Going forward, there’s still a lot of questions,” he said. “Will the clay targets be enough? If not, we still need to explore all the options. Hopefully, they can start making some money.”
Sporting clays were added to the complex’s lineup in January. Sporting clays make movement like game, jumping like a rabbit or fluttering in the air like a bird. It will take about a year to see how that addition helps the complex’s bottom line, Sisolak said.
One option to consider in the long term is if the county should seek a contract with a private company to run the center, Sisolak said. He stressed, however, that he wants to give the complex a chance to succeed financially before exploring that alternative. Within a year, he said, he will have a better idea if that’s worth exploring.
Bill Bellar and Anthony Alaimo, both of Las Vegas, took turns Thursday firing shotguns at clay targets. They praised the complex’s quality, though they also have suggestions for improvement.
Alaimo noted that at one area shooting complex, participants — after completing their sports activity — can drink alcoholic beverages. (They aren’t allowed to shoot afterward.) That could be one way to boost revenue at the county facility, he said.
As for the fee increases, Alaimo said he doubts that would be the best approach while the complex is trying to attract more people.
“I don’t know if that’s the way to do it,” he said.
Carmichael said he wouldn’t want to serve alcohol at the facility unless it had the unanimous support of its advisory committee.
Ed Finger, the assistant county manager whose responsibilities include the complex, didn’t respond to multiple requests for comments about the budget and finances of the facility.
Commissioner Tom Collins, a big supporter of the complex, bristled when asked about its financial situation. He asked a reporter to show him a park that has broken even.
“Pick any (expletive) park that’s broken even,” he said. “Call me back when you find one.”
Contact reporter Ben Botkin at email@example.com or 702-455-4519.