Usual commissions on food and beverage sales from concessionaires at convention centers range from 25% to 30%.
Penn Square Partners (PSP), which has the food and beverage concession from the Lancaster County Convention Center Authority (LCCCA), only pays 5%. So in 2013, the convention center only received $150,000 as its share of the revenue.
PSP is a limited partnership between a High Companies subsidiary and a subsidiary of the Lancaster Newspapers, Inc.
Had Penn Square Partners paid the usual 25%, it would have received $750,000.
So if 2013 is typical, $600,000 a year that should otherwise go to the LCCCA is retained by Penn Square Partners. Over the course of the approximately 40 year arrangement, that comes to $24,000,000.
Those with long memories or who read the history of the convention at NewsLanc know that the contracts between the LCCCA and PSP were rammed through at a single meeting over the protest of the three county board members who had only been given a couple of days to review documents that piled half a foot high. They were denied an extension of a week to review the documents.
Board member are volunteers with jobs and other responsibilities to attend to during weekdays.
When the three county appointed members vigorously protested, one of the four city board appointee said “There is no need to read the documents because they have been reviewed by counsel.”
Moreover, the $600,000 was but one of the very unusual benefits conferred by the documents on PSP.
Some counsel. Some city appointees. Others might say ‘some swindle’.
The Lancaster Newspapers, Inc. has every right to brag about the good deeds of the Steinman Foundations. But it also should report on the missing $600,000, half going into its pockets.