News Old - DO NOT USE - The Coast News Rancho Santa Fe

Center seeking financial support

RANCHO SANTA FE — The Rancho Santa Fe Community Center is in dire financial straits and the board is asking for financial support — $50,000 for
three years — from the Association.
Steve Kline, the center’s board president, told the Association at its June 17 meeting that the cash balance of the center has plummeted during the past 18 months. He said the money is needed to keep the center afloat until they can launch a financial campaign to make up the difference.
“Right now we are in survival mode,” he said.
Kline said because of the economic downturn that became severe in 2008, membership and donations are down significantly and there has been a shift in demographics at the club.
“We have low cash reserves — very low,” Kline said. He said that cash balance is steadily declining.
Because of last month’s fundraising gala, the cash at hand is $100,000, but still that is not enough.
“Without a $50,000 unplanned estate benefit, we would have gone in the hole,” Kline said.
Community Center officials have already done drastic cuts in staff and expenses and have delayed maintenance on the building, specifically the water damage on the floor of the gym, he said.
The next step would be to further reduce staff, reduce the number of hours the center is open, cut programs and reduce the number of special events held there.
The community center is 40 years old, having been founded in 1971.
At this moment, there are 660 families who pay $180 per year for memberships. If a person in the family wishes to take an extra class or program, they pay an additional fee.
“We pride ourselves on being the heart of the community,” he said.
He said that 25 percent of the programs are for children and 75 percent aimed at families.
If the Association approves the funding, it would allow the board of the community center to initiate an aggressive funding campaign by asking for major gifts, partnering with local businesses, strategically selecting board members and take a survey of the community to determine what it really desires at the center, Kline said.
“It will take a few years, but we will get there,” he said.
He said the benefits to the community are that there is an after school pickup for children and it is a safe place for them to be until picked up by her parents. Also a favorite is the youth basketball program that is enjoyed not only by the children, but many parents have fond memories of their children participating. It is also a place to meet neighbors and it increases property values.
Association Director Jack Queen suggested that perhaps an increase in member fees might make up the difference.
“We tried to raise fees,” Kline said. “You can’t raise fees anymore. When fees are raised, participation goes down.”
Kim Higgins, outgoing Association director, said that since many believe that the community center is an extension of the school that perhaps the school district could lend a hand.
Kline said the same day he approached the school, Superintendent Lindy Delaney had received notice of drastic funding cuts from the state and was looking at issuing pink slips to her staff.
Kline said one of the major issues he has been facing is “donation fatigue.”
“We need to determine who we have asked and how many times,” he said.
Several community members came to the meeting to speak on behalf of the community center.
John Ricker told the Association he lost his home in the Witch Creek Fire and that the Community Center was invaluable.
“They took care of us while we were trying to figure out which way was up,” she said.
Since it was the last Association meeting for Bill Beckman, Kim Higgins and Tim Sullivan, Manager Peter Smith suggested the item might be one for discussion at the upcoming retreat with new board members.