- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 18, 2017

RALSTON, Neb. (AP) - Ralston city leaders narrowly voted to allow the city’s struggling arena to borrow up to $500,000 from the city’s keno proceeds.

Mayor Don Groesser broke a 3-3 city council tie on a funding resolution Tuesday in favor of initially redirecting $500,000 from the current keno proceeds fund of about $1.8 million. City Attorney Mark Klinker said arena officials will be able to draw on the funds, as needed, and will pay back the money.

Klinker told the council that using keno funds would prevent taxpayers from having to cover more of the Ralston Arena’s bills. The arena lost $2.5 million on combined operations and debt service in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, 2015, which was $300,000 more than it lost the year before. The most recent fiscal year results have not been released yet.

Groesser said the arena is making money but that some months are busier than others, which creates a cash flow problem when covering expenses. Some council members said they wanted to know more about the arena’s monthly finances.

Council member Ben Preis said every report the council receives says the arena is busy, but the panel needs to see a report that shows it is profitable.

“We’re going to start giving directives and getting some answers,” Preis said. “Somebody needs to put a thumb down. Somebody has to get something moving.”

According to council member Michael Sanchez, creating a commission to oversee the arena’s operating could be a good decision in the future. Council president Jerry Krause agreed that the council should be provided with profit and loss statements for the arena.

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This story has been corrected to reflect that the money to help the arena will come from the city’s keno proceeds, not lottery proceeds.

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