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After slip ups, York City puts Ice Arena up for bid

Logan Hullinger
York Dispatch
York City Ice Arena

York City Ice Arena is available for leasing and management bids after the city twice broke contract language and triggered extensions with its current manager.

It is the city's third attempt in 17 months to advertise the arena. The first was issued in August 2018, but that and another attempt in May failed because the city didn't give the current management proper notice.

The city is giving potential applicants until Jan. 30 to make an offer, according to the request for proposals on the city website. The York Revolution, which now manages the arena, is locked in until July 2020.

York City officials and Revs President Eric Menzer did not immediately respond to inquiries seeking more details. It is unclear whether Menzer intends to make a bid to lease or continue to manage the facility.

More:City again blows York Ice Arena deadline

Originally, the Revs' contract was set to expire in September 2018. But it was extended through July when the city failed to give the Revs a 90-day notice that an RFP would be posted, which is required by the contract with the city.

That occurred because the city pulled an initial RFP that would have given the Revs sufficient notice. Officials said they wanted to make the request's requirements and expectations more specific.

The withdrawal prevented the city from having adequate time to give the Revs the required heads up, leading to an extension.

Then, in May, the city for the second time failed to give the Revs the required 90-day notice. York City Council President Henry Nixon said the incident demonstrated a lack of oversight by the city.

However, Mayor Michael Helfrich contended it was a strategic decision to let the city buy some time to figure out whether it wanted to advertise the facility for lease or management.

Investigation: As the city searches for someone new to take over — or decides to stick with the Revs if they make an offer — a county investigation into alleged employee misconduct in 2017 continues, confirmed Kyle King, spokesman for the York County District Attorney's office.

City and Revs officials have been silent about the subject of the investigation, but internal emails provided to The York Dispatch by a former ice arena employee show that the timeline of the investigation coincided with the 2017 termination of the facility's longtime general manager.

Less than two weeks after the general manager was fired, Menzer emailed arena employees to let them know that "the city has decided to expand into at least a preliminary investigation by city police to determine if sufficient evidence exists for criminal prosecution of the alleged theft."

An independent audit of York City's finances released in 2017 found a lack of “appropriate controls and oversight” at the ice arena.

A separate review by The York Dispatch of hundreds of arena-related documents, obtained through multiple Right-to-Know Law requests, also showed bookkeeping anomalies.

Since 2003, the city has been paying about $600,000 per year for the arena after assuming responsibility for a $7.3 million bond it had guaranteed to build the two-rink facility.

Menzer, the city's economic development director at the time the bond was issued, supported the construction of the arena.

The bond was supposed to be paid off by 2021, but York City Council members in 2017 voted to refinance it with a separate bond, extending the expected date of payoff to 2027.

When the Revs took over management of the facility in 2014, it produced nearly $90,000 in profit during the first few months, but it lost about $130,000 from 2015 through September 2017, according to income statements submitted to the city.

— Logan Hullinger can be reached at lhullinger@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @LoganHullYD.