The Fairfield Theatre Co. took center stage at a joint budget meeting Monday of the Board of Selectmen and Board of Finance, even though they weren't asking for any money.

The FTC rents space from the town at 70 Sanford St. for $1 a year, but is required to pay $2 for every ticket sold. The town, under the lease, pays the electrical and heating costs for the former factory building it purchased several decades ago. That $39,000 payment was broken out in the municipal budget proposal for 2012-13 and included with the funding that local nonprofits receive from the town.

Selectman James Walsh said the theater company, which in recent years has focused on presenting concerts here and at the Klein in Bridgeport, has been late paying the town the $2 per ticket fee for some time. "This has been going on for years," Walsh said, noting that a $12,000 payment made in February included $11,000 that was actually due in June 2011.

The FTC ticket revenue payments to the town are supposed to be made quarterly, according to the lease.

Finance board member Kenneth Brachfeld, who said he often patronizes FTC events, said town officials should know the true costs of the FTC as well as the benefits it produces for the town. For instance, he said, the town should also know what the maintenance cost for the building, as well as an estimate of revenue if the town were to lease the building at market rates.

"There seems to be some debate of what the contract actually calls for," Finance Chairman Thomas Flynn said. "It's going to be an important item to know." Flynn said the boards also need to know, on a cash basis, the costs and revenue from the FTC for the last several years. "It doesn't sound like we're even breaking even on the electrical and heat," he said.

In addition, Flynn said town officials need to know whether the theater has been making the quarterly payments on a timely basis, as required under the lease.

"This is nothing new," Walsh said. "These payments are to be made quarterly ... we get paid last. It's not coming in the way the contract says and something needs to be done."

The boards made a formal request via Fiscal Officer Paul Hiller for copies of the lease, and information on payments received from the FTC and the costs covered by the town.

There was no one from the FTC at the meeting to answer questions.

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