AMICC feels financial pinch

The Anna Maria Island Community Center board of directors came to face falling numbers.

Executive director Dawn Stiles wasted no time at the board’s April 25 meeting getting to the center’s financial issue.

“I’m concerned with cash flow and our revenue estimates have been under projection,” Stiles said, with the exception of a mystery theater-dinner event. The murder-mystery is a fundraising event with volunteer actors and paid attendance.

Although final tabulations for the Island Affaire held April 12 are incomplete, Stiles said it appears the gala grossed $50,000 less than the 2013 gala — less than expected.

But board chair Scott Rudacille was optimistic.

“Revenue for the affaire is about on par, and we could beat last year’s revenue,” he said, if there are any outstanding pledges.

Stiles, however, said to look at the overall financial picture.

“We have some more events planned, but it takes a while to grow them to where they generate revenue. Right now, there is a strong reliance on donations, not earned revenue, and donations are down,” she said.

Stiles said the demographics of donations are changing. Many long-term donors have either left the island or died, and it’s up to the board to reach out for new residents who can afford to donate.

“But they need to be involved with the center,” she said.

Board member Blair Schlossberg agreed.

“We need some heavy hitters to get in touch with. They could be top donors on the island. Maybe we need new blood to drive this up. Certainly, Dawn needs some help,” Schlossberg said.

Board member Jason Sato pulled no punches: “The biggest thing is generating revenue from this new building, and it’s not generating the money we thought, and the people are getting tired of being hit for money all the time.”

The building was conceived in 2002 at a projected cost of $2.5 million, but the total cost had climbed to $4.5 million by the time it opened.

“We can’t constantly hit up the same people,” Sato said. “They want to see what’s happening with this building, and nothing is happening. We’ve got all these empty rooms that are doing nothing.”

Assistant executive director Scott Dell said the rooms are used during the winter season. He also said a lot of center money goes to scholarships for some less fortunate families to participate.

“We don’t turn anyone away because they can’t pay. In 2012-13, we gave out $320,000 in scholarships. We have a lot of seniors on fixed income who can’t afford a program without a scholarship,” he said.

“Programs and activities have never generated surplus revenue, it’s always been people and businesses that raise money, and we’re always going to need donations and fundraising,” Dell added.

Schlossberg said there is a lot of new money coming to the island and the center needs to get those people involved, not just ask them for money.

Holmes Beach Commissioner David Zaccagnino said the “timing is right for us to go get the big money moving here. Jason is right. Retired Baby Boomers from Fortune 500 companies are coming and let’s go get them on board.”

Stiles said she’s been in touch with former donors to the center, but has not yet been able to develop relationships similar to her predecessor, Pierrette Kelly. Kelly was executive director for 22 years; Stiles has held the position slightly more than one year.

Rudacille said the board should not rely on Stiles to raise funds and obtain grants. “Dawn’s job is developing programs, not developing fundraising and grants. Fundraising is up to the board,” he said.

Members agreed that new blood is needed and possibly more board members. Rudacille said at one time there were 16 board members.

Rudacille said the board needs to plan a strategy to attract “heavy hitters” and get them involved in the center.

“How do we make that happen?” he asked.

Schlossberg suggested a special work session devoted to financing and board members agreed. The meeting was scheduled for 8 a.m. Friday, May 30.

“And everyone should bring the name of one potential new member and donor,” Schlossberg added.

In other business, the board got a clean bill of health from its auditors for the 2012-13 fiscal year.

Schlossberg also suggested the board consider refinancing its mortgage while interest rates are low. A large balloon payment is due in 2016, he said, and refinancing would put the center in a better, long-range financial position, and it would avoid the pending balloon payment.

2 thoughts on “AMICC feels financial pinch

  1. virginia watson

    Someone had better look up the definition of "community" and see if it, indeed, applies to Anna Maria and the center. The talk of going after the "heavy hitters" is so dated and the hallmark of every terribly average fund raising effort. In fact, if board members would truly embrace the community aspect by expanding that to include tourists who use the Center, you might be surprised at the support us snow birds would provide. However, there is a group who treats the Center as their own private club. Are you listening Legends?

  2. Donna Pope

    Big developers have caused many life-long island residents to move away for the sake of tourism. Vacationers come and go and have no interest in the community center, school, or churches, all of which will be gone if this trend continues. After seeing the changes as a long-term renter for 12 winters, it looks like it is a done deal.

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