Subscribe to SouthsideCentral via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this website and receive notifications of new posts by email.



Follow me on Twitter

BreakDown: The Sutherlin Mansion Costs

At last Tuesday’s Danville City Council work session, Public Works director Ric Drazenovich talked about the city’s costs in maintaining the Sutherlin Mansion (the location of the Danville Museum of Fine Arts & History). Let’s take a comprehensive look at those numbers. It’s time for a BreakDown.

We’ll get this BreakDown started with the dollar amounts from 2012 – 2015.

These are city fiscal years and not calendar years, so the 2016 year is ongoing. All of the averages are calculated on the 2012 through 2015 years.

Let’s bring out the BreakDown Big Board…

  • The bottom line is that the annual cost is hovering around $105,000 per year once all the cross-charges are totaled up. But you know that wouldn’t be much of a BreakDown, so we’ll drill down deeper than that.
  • Since the city owns the property and leases it to the museum, the city is responsible for all the building maintenance. Unlike most building leases, the city also pays the utility bill and that’s a sizable expense because of the size and age of the building. There’s no real rental income to the city as they lease it to the museum for a token amount.
  • This leasing agreement is so one-sided because the city derives a lot of indirect revenue from the museum when it comes to tourism effects. The museum (and tourism itself) could be marketed a lot better to increase those indirect revenues and that’s going to happen soon. The Danville Pittsylvania County Chamber of Commerce has pretty much forced that issue to the forefront by getting all stakeholders in tourism to workshops about making a regional tourism initiative last year.
  • That tourism initiative will be formally announced to the area’s governments in the next 6 months or so. It won’t be free, and all of the local governments will be expected to pitch in and cover the costs. Martinsville/Henry County has done a great job with their tourism department and I expect a lot of their practices to be included in this region’s recommendations.
  • Getting back to the numbers, the maintenance costs have been relatively steady over the four years in the report. You can count on that being around $30,000 per year. You can see that Public Works keeps a very good track of the different kinds of expenses incurred.
  • One part of the museum’s leasing agreement that I noticed is that Public Works sets up and takes down events, but the museum keeps the income from those events. The museum lawn is often used for weddings, receptions and other types of special events.
  • Utilities are the biggest segment of the costs. The “126 Sutherlin Avenue” property listed used to be a doctor’s office but is now the museum annex. It’s used as a storage area and also has some offices in there. You’re looking at an average $40,000 per year electric bill, but the utility costs have been going up on a year-to-year basis. Not outrageously, but the trend is still up. The museum annex is going to add about $6,000 a year to that number since it’s not included in the average, so let’s just say that the real utilities cost is around $45,000.
  • The expense category that varies the most is capital improvements and special projects. The approximate $31,000 per year average shown in the report is jacked up by the new roof that was put on in 2012. That $60,000 expense will last for a long time. Since we’re getting to budget time, we’ll get a look at the five-year plan for more capital improvements. I can’t think of anything that would be more expensive than a new roof.
  • Public Works comes up with their $99,419 number but they don’t include the utilities for the museum annex. I feel that’s an expense that needs to be accounted for in the overall question of “What does it cost to maintain the Sutherlin Mansion?”, so I’m adding that ~$5,000 yearly expense to the numbers. That makes for the $105,000 that I said at the beginning.

And there you go. That’s your detailed look at the numbers and where they came from. There’s your BreakDown, and it’s only on SouthsideCentral.


7 comments to BreakDown: The Sutherlin Mansion Costs

Leave a Reply