Murphy Theatre’s board proposes loan terms to Clinton County


By Gary Huffenberger - ghuffenberger@wnewsj.com



From left are Murphy Theatre Board of Trustees Treasurer Paul Fear, Murphy Theatre Board of Trustees President David Wagenseller and Clinton County Commissioner Brenda K. Woods. A public-private partnership between the county and the Murphy Theatre non-profit corporation is being considered in the form of a no-interest loan from the county to the performing arts community theater.


Gary Huffenberger | News Journal

WILMINGTON — The Murphy Theatre board is proposing a 20-year loan with $15,000 due annually as basic terms to repay a $300,000 no-interest loan that Clinton County commissioners have offered for new seating.

Murphy Theatre Board of Trustees President David Wagenseller and Treasurer Paul Fear made the proposal Monday to commissioners following the news that commissioners are willing to offer a no-interest loan in lieu of grant funds that do not get repaid. In early November, Murphy Theatre supporters asked county commissioners to give $300,000 for new seats.

After hearing the theatre board’s proposal, commissioners indicated they will have some discussions, including with their legal counsel, and get back with the board of trustees shortly.

The Murphy Theatre supporters hope the project can be done in time for the theatre’s 100th anniversary celebration next summer — a week filled with events July 20 through July 28, 2018.

Fear listed four sources the theatre organization expects to tap into to repay the loan.

One way is to have a seat sponsorship program where a person can purchase a particular seat. The patron would have first right to purchase a ticket to that seat for all shows, and a small brass plate would identify the seat sponsor. Seat sponsorships are tax-deductible, said Fear.

Based on other seat sponsorship programs, the aim here is to raise $100,000 through that method, Fear said.

A second source of repayment funds would be the existing Dancing With the Stars fundraiser. The anticipation, he said, is to designate $20,000 a year from the fundraiser for the next five years to go toward repaying the loan.

The third source is to sell the current seats as is often done when old baseball parks come down. Selling the current theatre seats would generate more money than scrapping them, said Fear. He said they hope to raise $50,000 or $60,000 that way.

And the fourth source of repayment funds is expected to be increased ticket sales thanks to the more comfortable new seats.

Wagenseller mentioned there could be a 2 percent fee if a payment is late. He suggested payments be due twice a year.

Fear said he had asked Santa Claus for the loan agreement to be unsecured, meaning no collateral. He went on to say Peoples Bank has first mortgage on the theatre, and the City of Wilmington has a second mortgage, adding a third mortgage is available if that is of interest to commissioners.

Clinton County Commissioner Brenda K. Woods asked about the life expectancy of the padding on the new seats. Fear said 30 to 50 years.

Leaders of the performing arts community theater have said their nonprofit can contribute $76,000 to the seating project, with an estimated total cost of $376,000.

Clinton County Commissioners President Kerry R. Steed said a loan agreement with the theatre need not exclude the Murphy Theatre from applying in the future for Legacy Fund grant dollars once the Fund is formally set up. A pool of funds from the sale of Clinton Memorial Hospital is sometimes called a Legacy Fund.

Presently, there is about $3 million in hand for the Legacy Fund, with a few more deferred annual payments to come.

Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.

From left are Murphy Theatre Board of Trustees Treasurer Paul Fear, Murphy Theatre Board of Trustees President David Wagenseller and Clinton County Commissioner Brenda K. Woods. A public-private partnership between the county and the Murphy Theatre non-profit corporation is being considered in the form of a no-interest loan from the county to the performing arts community theater.
http://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2017/12/web1_DSC_0414.jpgFrom left are Murphy Theatre Board of Trustees Treasurer Paul Fear, Murphy Theatre Board of Trustees President David Wagenseller and Clinton County Commissioner Brenda K. Woods. A public-private partnership between the county and the Murphy Theatre non-profit corporation is being considered in the form of a no-interest loan from the county to the performing arts community theater. Gary Huffenberger | News Journal

By Gary Huffenberger

ghuffenberger@wnewsj.com