Mayo Civic Center staff to get incentive to stay as time runs out

March 6, 2019

Some Mayo Civic Center employees will receive an up to 12 percent pay raise for their final year as city employees operating the facility.

“We really need to make sure the 21 people who work for the city continue to work at that facility during this year,” City Administrator Steve Rymer said.

The Rochester City Council voted 5-1 to approve a quarterly incentive plan Monday to keep staff on the payroll as the city prepares to turn facility operations and marketing of the civic center over to a private nonprofit entity.

City Council President Randy Staver was the sole opposing vote.

“I think this is setting some precedent for poor policy,” he said, noting the proposal doesn’t specify performance measures.

Other council members saw the proposal as reasonable.

“We have to be careful with incentives, but we have a unique situation here,” Council Member Patrick Keane said.

The maximum cost for the incentive program will be $180,000, if all potential payments are made.

Rymer said it’s unlikely that all the payments will be made, noting employees who will be transitioning to other city jobs won’t receive the incentive, even if the planned switch is after the first of the year.

“Right now, there are a good handful of teammates we know will be transferring,” he said, noting other opportunities will likely be found throughout the year.

In December, the council agreed to start efforts to put facility operations and sales in the hands of a single nonprofit entity, taking over duties of city staff as well as sales efforts conducted by Experience Rochester, the private agency formerly known as the Rochester Convention Visitors Bureau.

The transition is expected to take approximately a year.

On March 18, the City Council is expected to review the latest proposals for vision and mission statements for the new organization, as well as potential bylaws.

In December, Rymer said the council will eventually be able to choose board members for the new nonprofit agency and will be able to require it to operate under the state’s established open meeting laws. It would also be required to report regularly to the city.

At the same time, he said using a nonprofit agency would reduce financial risks for the city and provide an operation that is nimble enough to respond to market trends.

Rymer said Monday a successful transition will require experienced staff that can see the civic center through its busy season, which starts in the fall.

“We need to retain a team that understands how to operate and maintain a 470,000-square-foot facility,” he said.