Minutes from March 20, 2019 ASSEC Business Committee Meeting

The Alabama Space Science Exhibit Commission (ASSEC) Business Committee recently met to review activities at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center including Space Camp and Aviation Challenge programs. These are the official minutes of the meeting as approved and released by the committee. Please note this document has been created using optical character recognition and some errors may be present. A PDF copy of the original document is located at the bottom of this page.

March 20, 2019 — 3:30 P.M.

A meeting of the Business Committee, Alabama Space Science Exhibit Commission (ASSEC), was held Wednesday, March 20, 2019, at 3:30 p.m. in the Board Room of the U.S. Space & Rocket Center (USSRC) Huntsville, Alabama

Sprocketeers Note – The attendees’ section of this document has been omitted to save space. You can find a full list of attendees on the PDF at the bottom of the page


The meeting was called to order by Col. Craig Naudain, Acting Chair of the Business Committee of the Alabama Space Science Exhibit Commission. Ms. Monika Havron was present to record the minutes.


Col. Naudain asked for questions, comments, and corrections to the minutes of the ASSEC Business Committee meeting held on Wednesday, February 20, 2019. Dr. Suzy Young made the motion to approve the minutes. Mr. Rey Almodovar seconded the motion. The motion was unanimously approved.


Mr. Louis Ramirez reported on the February FY19 financials:

  • Operating Budget
    • Operating income is positive $700K
    • Museum admissions, merchandise and food service sales are ahead of plan.
    • Budget is almost exactly on plan with expenses under budget.
    • Accruing cost of Saturn V preservation which have not yet been billed.
    • Camp is under plan, but income is only recognized when trainees complete the program. As camp heads into the busy season, plan should be exceeded or corrected.
  • Non-operating
    • Lodging taxes on budget.
    • Capital contribution budgeted for the new building is behind plan $168K which was to be used for architectural drawings. The new plan is to bid architectural work in FY19 and award in FY20.
    • Apollo Touring exhibit costs were capitalized in the amount of $681K. These costs will be offset by touring revenue over the next five years.
    • The $175K income budget for the Space Camp South Korea license has not yet occurred. There has been no update from licensee.
  • Cash Management
    • $3.8M in cash, with another $2.9M in the Education Foundation to move in the next few
    • months.
    • Foundation cash is for planned expenditures for the Planetarium, scholarships and rocket restoration.

Mr. Joe Newberry inquired about cost of goods sold for line items such as merchandise and food services. Mr. Ramirez discussed that with higher admission there are higher labor costs. Col. Naudain asked how the costs of the Saturn V restoration will be reconciled due to contributions being lower than budgeted. Mr. Ramirez stated that the Center will postpone some repair and maintenance items, as well as capital projects such as the Shuttle and Saturn IB to FY20. Also, $300K was budgeted for repairs on the Saturn V, but this will likely be recognized as a savings because no repairs have been needed. Mr. Ramirez provided the Committees with a detailed breakdown of other income and expenses as requested at last month’s meeting.


Habitat 1 Roof Replacement

Mr. Ramirez introduced Ms. Kristin Luke, Director of Procurement, and asked that she share about the state bid process. Ms. Luke explained the sealed bid process steps, which start with collecting specs of job project, scope, requirements, forms, and E-verify then the sealed bid is sent out to a specific list of vendors. A pre-bid meeting is scheduled on-site to show the vendors the project. They then submit questions based on the pre-bid meeting. The procurement office then distributes the answers within a few days and the bid return deadline is set for about one week out. A public bid reading is then held where each bid is opened, and prices read aloud to the vendors, so they know how they stack up in comparison. The bid packets are then reviewed in the procurement office to ensure they are complete. The bid is then awarded after board approval is received with a formal agreement/purchase order. A winning bid is based on the lowest price and that they can provide a license, meet the requirements, and references are reviewed by procurement. The State of Alabama Disclosure form is required and identifies stakeholder in any company, along with other disclosures. Team Craft Roofing vendor had the lowest bid in the amount of $238,500. Mr. Ramirez recommended approval from the Committees.

Col. Naudain asked for a motion to award Team Craft Roofing with the roof replacement job. Mr. Joe Newberry made the motion to approve. Dr. Waymon Burke seconded the motion. The motion was approved unanimously.


Huntsville City Schools MOU – Culinary

Dr. Barnhart provided an overview of the discussions with Huntsville City Schools regarding the CTE program(s) that was shared with the committees a few months ago. Madison City and Madison County Schools were approached to join or assist in the partnership before the Center was approached, but neither were interested. Their request was for the Center to house Culinary and Construction Arts; however, this has evolved to include only three classes of 27 culinary students, (hand-selected 11th and 12th graders). The classes will only occur during the school year and will not affect our busy season. Huntsville City Schools will incur all costs, provide transportation, teachers, portable classrooms which will be located behind the Davidson Center, be responsible for the students while they are on our campus and everything they would in a typical setting. Committee members voiced concern about security, parking, protocol and other potential issues. The Center will only be responsible for is providing the location, kitchen for use, subject matter experts and some special projects. Dr. Barnhart stated that we owe these children the same kinds of motivation that we provide to our STEM students. The MOU will be for a period of less than five years, the terms and conditions are amenable to both parties, and as both parties are State, insurance is not an issue. If for any reason either party does not fulfill the terms of the agreement, the MOU is easily terminated. This agreement will be beneficial for the Center because it is difficult to hire entry level food service help, and this will give us a pool of talent to hire from.

In the future, the hope is to have a similar agreement for Construction Arts. Ideally, this would be housed in a brand-new facility that would also rehouse our technical staff who currently need space and improved working areas. In the event of a new facility, the agreement would somewhat resemble the agreement we have with NASA for the ETF. Huntsville City Schools would like to take the MOU to their Board next Tuesday night. As the term is less than five years, the agreement does not require approval from ASSEC, but at the request of Mr. Hickam, Dr. Barnhart agreed to provide it to the committees via email for review.


Mr. Hickam wanted to give the committees an opportunity to review and ask any further questions concerning the 2018 Audit which was approved at the February Business Committee Meeting. Mr. Zana asked if there were two or three ratios that were especially important. Mr. Ramirez said that the ratios in the audit report are not very useful tools.

Mr. Newberry discussed that the Center’s financial performance is excellent now, but in the event of a downturn would like to have guidelines in place for the committees to be notified before the bank reaches out. He asked for notifications to be provided at set financial levels. Ms. Brenda Perez and Mr. Ramirez stated that they would pull the covenants to examine what is currently mandated. Mr. Ramirez shared that during review of historical records from the dark days that cash flow was bad and standard operating procedures should have been followed. The bank threatened to seize $15M in assets from the Center, but as commission of the State, how could they seize the assets. A $6M line of credit was negotiated in order to establish stability and begin correcting the financial issues.

Mr. Ramirez and Ms. Brenda Perez shared that the Center has been working with the Alabama Department of Archives to establish a Records Disposal Agreement. The agreement is in the final stages for their Board approval in April. We have helped to write a 30—page document setting out what records are permanent, as well as identifying all our records. This has been a slow-moving process that all State agencies are working through. To note, in 2013 State Examiners found we were delinquent; however, this was the case for many agencies. Once the Agreement is approved by the Alabama Department of Archives, we can ship our permanent files to their archives and shred massive amounts of non-permanent records. Vital records such as ASSEC meeting minutes, HIPPA and financial records will be kept on-site. The Center will need to establish controls, adopt a policy and potentially hire a records retention employee to maintain and dispose of records.


Col. Naudain announced that the next Business Committee Meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, April 17, 2019 at 3:30 p.m.


There was no other business to come before the Business Committee. Col. Naudain adjourned the meeting at 4:45 p.m.