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Local News

Rialto reduces request for Joliet subsidy by $25,000

Annual Joliet subsidy would drop to $475,000

The Rialto Square Theatre marquee illuminates the 80th anniversary of United Way of Will County on Feb. 1, 2017, in downtown Joliet.
The Rialto Square Theatre marquee illuminates the 80th anniversary of United Way of Will County on Feb. 1, 2017, in downtown Joliet.

The Rialto Square Theatre is cutting its annual request for city funding by $25,000.

The lowered request reflects an improved financial outlook at the Rialto, although the theater is projecting a $474,000 loss in the current fiscal year, which started July 1.

Still, with that projection, the Rialto is asking for a $475,000 subsidy from Joliet instead of the usual $500,000.

Rialto board Chairman Robert Filotto announced that he has already informed city hall that the theater is reducing its subsidy request.

“As you can imagine, it was well received,” Filotto said at the Wednesday meeting of the Will County Metropolitan Exposition and Auditorium Authority that oversees the Rialto. “No guarantees for the future, but I think it’s a testament to Val and her staff that we were able to take a step in the right direction.”

Val Devine, executive director of the Rialto, and theater staff also were credited by Filotto for a better than expected finish to fiscal 2018-19, which ended June 30.

The Rialto ended the year with a $404,000 operating loss, but it had budgeted for a $536,000 deficit, Filotto said.

“We really did very well last year,” he said.

The $404,000 operating loss does not count the $500,000 city subsidy received in the past year or the one-time gain of $350,000 the Rialto received from the sale of the Two Rialto Square building in December.

Third-party manager VenuWorks forecast lower deficits when it was in the process of taking over Rialto management in late 2016.

Operating deficits are higher than VenuWorks projected in November 2016, when it urged the City Council to keep the annual subsidy, although the financial performance of the past year comes close to the forecast.

Facing City Council resistance to Rialto funding in 2016, VenuWorks lowered the request from the $600,000 subsidy the Rialto had been getting for years.

VenuWorks projected it could reduce the Rialto deficit to $500,000 in 2017 and operate with a $500,000 subsidy.

VenuWorks also projected a continued decline in Rialto operating deficits to $448,000 in 2018, $388,000 in 2019, $342,000 in 2020, and $290,000 in 2021.

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