Community center — finally — in the black

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Joan Pettigrew, of the Eyeland Needlers, and John Munn, Center of Anna Maria Island board member, present the quilt created by the Needlers for a prize during the center's tour of homes in March. Islander Photo: Bianca Benedí

Months ago, the Center of Anna Maria Island was warned that if it could not stick to a budget, it may not last the year.

Board members announced Jan. 31 that since December, for the first time in the fiscal year that began July 1, the center is operating in the black.

With participation rates remaining steady, board members expect growth through the year.

A combination of fundraising and program participation boosted income, said outgoing executive director Kristen Lessig.

Lessig announced at the meeting that she accepted a position at the Sarasota YMCA.

She said the net income for the first half of the fiscal year was $6,023 — in the black — while the board had anticipated the center budget outcome would be more than $13,000 in the red by the end of December.

Direct costs for programs are more than $40,000 below budget for the fiscal year, at $163,689. Indirect and administrative expenses are down more than $27,000 from the budget at $275,007.

Meanwhile, fundraising revenue exceeded budgeted expectations by $15,000 at the end of December.

At $206,200, program revenue is below the budgeted $270,300. However, a decrease in expenses, as well as an increase in donations, helped even out the balance.

“People are investing in the center again,” said board chair David Zaccagnino.

Zaccagnino, a financial adviser with Raymond James, compared the center to the stock market: growing activity and programs increased trust and people are more willing to make large donations to the center as a result.

Part of the this winter’s financial success can be attributed to an anonymous $130,000 donation at the end of the calendar year.

In addition, Lessig said contributions from an estate and a trust allowed the center to replenish its endowment fund.

Lessig said the partnership with Island Fitness, which moved its operations to the center in November 2017, was more beneficial than expected.

However, the $6,000 gain in the current budget year does not take into account the $200,000 annual  losses during Lessig’s past two years, nor the losses — based on audits by Kerkering Barberio — that took place in the past eight or more years.


Board members added

      Two people joined the board Jan. 31.

Christine Hicks, a longtime community member, will succeed Jim Froeschle as board treasurer.

Froeschle, who announced his board resignation in December, said he spent the past month reviewing financials with Hicks in order to turn over his responsibilities.

Community member John Munn also joined the board.

Several additional applications were submitted, Zaccagnino said, and the board will continue to review applicants and add to its membership.

However, Zaccagnino said, the board will be more selective of who it brings in, explaining the center did not want the board to fraction as it did in mid-2017, when multiple members of the board stepped down and he stepped in.


Fundraisers ahead

      The center is looking toward several fundraising events for the remainder of the year.

Bingo has proven to be a popular event, according to Zaccagnino.

The game night, which began in early January, drew more than 70 people to the first event, and more than 120 attended the second bingo night, Zaccagnino said.

While not intended as a fundraiser, the center earned more than $2,000 from two game nights.

In addition, Zaccagnino said the center is selling out its murder mystery dinners.

Performances of the Las Vegas-themed show, “What Happens In Anna Maria … Stays In Anna Maria” will be at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Feb. 16-17, at the center, 407 Magnolia Ave., Anna Maria.

The murder mystery dinner is “turning out to be our signature event,” Lessig said.

Two companies — Air & Energy and the Boilermaker — are sponsors. The companies also asked to share sponsorship for the next several years, Lessig said.

Lessig also announced that four homes were acquired for the tour of homes, which is Saturday, March 17.

The nonprofit recently received a $1,000 grant from the Michael Saunders Foundation and a $6,500 grant from the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce Giving Back program to support its after-school program.


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