Bob Jeffrey has been re-elected as one of Chautauqua Institution’s 24 trustees. Nominated for a second term by the Chautauqua Property Owners Association, Jeffrey ran unopposed; his election was confirmed at the beginning of the Chautauqua Corporation’s annual business meeting on Aug. 12 in the Hall of Philosophy.
Jeffrey will complete his first four-year term in November. He has served on the board’s Asset Policy Committee, Special Committee on Amphitheater-Related Matters, and currently chairs the Architectural Review Board.
Jim Pardo, chair of the board of trustees, recognized Jeffrey and applauded for him for his leadership and service. Pardo also recognized two departing trustees, Laura Currie and Ron Kilpatrick.
“They both served as incredibly steady behind-the-scenes counselors for me and for my predecessors as chair,” Pardo said. “They always steered us in our decision making, and did so by steering us toward that better, considerate idea rather than an abrupt, knee-jerk reaction.”
In her eight years as a trustee, Currie served on several committees — including Program Policy, Nominating and Governance, and the Presidential Search. Currie also served as the director of the Development Council and was a member of each of the board’s committees related to the Amphitheater project, including the initial study group.
After 14 years, Kilpatrick is departing from the board. Kilpatrick also served on a number of committees, including Nominating and Governance and the Amp special committee. He also was a member of the Chautauqua Hotel Corporation board of directors and Architectural Review Board. As a member and former chair of the Asset Policy Committee, Kilpatrick developed financial and capital models that Pardo said “will actually serve as (Kilpatrick’s) legacy on the board.”
“They always deflected credit to others, they kept extraordinarily low profiles while on the board, while developing and cultivating tremendous and enduring respect of everyone over these years,” Pardo said. “We’ve had the pure pleasure of sitting with them at the board table and they have made all of us better. They’re going to be greatly missed.”
Sebby Baggiano, the Institution’s vice president, treasurer and chief operating officer, then presented the Institution’s annual financial report.
“We are happy with the results of the audit and the financial statements,” Baggiano said.
Copies of the audited financial statements are available in Treasurer’s Office. As noted by Kilpatrick, “the 2016 bottom line financial results were the best-ever for the Institution.”
According to the report, 2016 earned revenue grew by 3.8 percent over 2015. The increase in earned revenue was attributed to modest increases in ticket prices and overall volume. Popular entertainment ticket sales increased by 13 percent. The Chautauqua Fund grew by $70,000 and the payout from the endowment grew by $192,000 in 2016. Expenses grew by 1.8 percent, primarily due to a $426,000 investment in the Institution’s four pillars — arts, education, religion and recreation.
Baggiano also reported that the Athenaeum Hotel had a “phenomenal year,” with more than 80 percent occupancy during the 2016 season and a “tremendous amount of conference and wedding business” during the off-season.
“These are terrific results,” Baggiano said. “Sustainability is really what we’re also focused on. We always need to look forward to that path and that goal of sustainability and we continue to work at that.”
Pardo also noted that there is $6.5 million of philanthropy funding that’s spendable in the current year. He thanked the Foundation, its board of directors and chair Cathy Bonner, Chautauqua Fund co-chairs Cathy Nowosielski and Jeff Lutz, and “everyone involved in the annual fund” for their contributions and efforts.
A Q-and-A forum with President Michael E. Hill and Pardo followed the adjournment of the official meeting. A community member expressed concern regarding the affordability of Chautauqua Institution.
“The affordability of Chautauqua is made of a lot of elements,” Pardo said. “The Institution does not control the vast majority of those elements, particularly with respect to rentals and with respect to homeownership. While we try to work with property owners who rent and while we try to work with the town of Chautauqua and their taxing authority to make this a more affordable place to own and to rent real estate, the reality is that the gate pass that we pay, while significant, is not nearly the most expensive element of being here for an extended period of time.”
Another community member requested that there be more bike patrols throughout the grounds to help people observe stop signs, one-way streets and other traffic laws, and suggested that youth be involved in the enforcement efforts.
Hill said his staff is actively working to address various transportation issues to help them “balance the very diverse needs of Chautauquans who want to get around in different ways.”
“I hear your concerns,” Hill said. “They’re not falling on deaf ears.”